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IULM commitment during the emergency

University - 06 April 2020

Despite the emergency IULM continues to guarantee lessons, graduation sessions, open days and admission tests. Here is an account of what has been done since the restrictive measures came into force.

In these times of emergency and anxiety, IULM University's greatest concern is to provide a careful, serious and precise service to all its students so that they can continue their university career in the most normal way possible.

Transforming all teaching into online teaching was the first and inevitable step by the University to react to the crisis. In the first week of distance learning, the University activated almost 700 online classes on the Microsoft Teams platform, in which more than 6,000 users took part. An important result for a totally new teaching system with which IULM wanted to ensure continuity of formation to all its students.

The other important initiative wanted by the University was the realization of the first Open Day totally in streaming to present the Bachelor educational offer of the academic year 2020/2021. The Open Day on March 7 had excellent results in terms of ratings, with a peak of 1089 viewers on YouTube and more than 33,000 views on Facebook.

The emergency situation has obviously forced the University to re-schedule not only the lectures and admission tests (which will be held online) but also the degree session of March. However, the University has allowed undergraduate students to choose whether to postpone the graduation exam in July (without paying extra costs or going off course) or to graduate on time anyway. The students who have opted for the latter option (125 candidates for the Bachelor's degree and 89 for the Master's degree) are currently taking the degree exam online. IULM has also given the opportunity to discuss the dissertations to graduates of the Dual Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, activating for them a connection with the University of Central Florida in Orlando in the United States. As well as the graduation sessions, the PhD exam in Visual and Media Studies was also organized in streaming mode.

To mitigate the difficulties that families are facing due to the health emergency, the University also decided to extend the university taxes and fees due for the 2019/2020 academic year by postponing the deadline to May 18.

A reason of pride in recent weeks has undoubtedly been the Orientation Office which, with enthusiasm and efficiency, has introduced a range of initiatives useful to students to live the University in the best possible way, even if at a distance. Projects such as the Q&A of the Infopoint - dedicated to future students interested in learning more about the degree courses and services offered by IULM - and the online seminars held by Dr. Stefano Bellantonio, Psychologist and Trainer of the University Counseling Service, have been very successful. These webinars, addressed to both Italian and international students, aim to provide tools to manage emotions and lack of sociality.

In order to meet those students who, even if from home, are working on their thesis, the Orientation Office has turned the historic seminar “Laurea senza stress" held by Dr. Massimo Bustreo into an online webinar: a meeting awaited by all the thesis students who need guidance and support during the writing of the final paper. The "Thesis Editing" service provided by the Library is also active for students who need it. The IULM Library continues, in fact, to offer several online services starting from the Digger portal, which allows you to consult and download digital documents, journal articles, ebooks.

There is no lack of content and insights on the portal and the official channels of the University. On March 6, the dialogue with the Archbishop of Milan on the theme "Beyond the Boundary: Identity, Conflicts" was broadcast live via streaming, an event that was intended to be an opportunity for Archbishop Del Pini and the IULM Community to meet, but which - due to the spread of Covid19 - was then transformed into a closed-door event broadcast online on the website and on all the University's social networks.

At the beginning of the emergency, a section on the IULM website dedicated to the Observatory on Communication in Time of Crisis was created. A real "open space" where to monitor ways, tools and forms through which the emergency is communicated by institutional, political, health, media, cultural, economic actors. Under the direction of Prof. Stefano Rolando - scientific director of the IULM Observatory on public communication, public branding and digital transformation - an in-depth analysis of the communication issues that emerged after the diffusion of Covid-19 in our country has been carried out. Thanks to the intervention of professors and lecturers of the University, this section of the portal is being constantly implemented in these weeks with new content with the aim of launching a mapping that highlights the issues and ways of communication in an emergency situation.

Finally, a few days ago the University launched a suggestive call to action to the whole IULM community (and not only) to tell the situation we are experiencing. "Cont-Act - Artefatti comunicativi terapeutici" is a collective narration project that wants to involve students, teachers and technical-administrative staff, but also citizens and surfers of the web, with the aim of providing everyone with a virtual place where to give shape to the experiences related to the pandemic, to share and socialize them. When the emergency has finally ended, the University will transform the materials received into "therapeutic communicative artifacts": a photographic exhibition, a video installation, a choral film. So as to keep alive the sense of community and testify these dark days when the threat and fear will be over.

For the future, lULM is already starting to plan innovations and changes in teaching and training to respond in a timely and responsible way to the world that will come out of this serious emergency, to its new needs, needs and expectations.