Lancaster builds new link with ancient Italian university


The MoU was signed by Lancaster’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global), Professor Simon Guy (right), and the Pro-Rector for International Relations of Padua University, Professor Alessandro Paccagnella. The centre photograph shows Padua University’s elegant Central Building.
The MoU was signed by Lancaster’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global), Professor Simon Guy (right), and the Pro-Rector for International Relations of Padua University, Professor Alessandro Paccagnella. The centre photograph shows Padua University’s elegant Central Building.

Lancaster University has joined forces with one of the oldest universities in the world to help bring humanities subjects into the mobilities arena.

On Friday, at a virtual event, Lancaster signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the prestigious University of Padua, founded in 1222, and located in the Italian district of Veneto.

Lancaster has been a world-leader in mobilities scholarship for nearly two decades following the establishment of CeMoRe - the Centre for Mobilities Research (based in Sociology) - in 2003 by the late Professor John Urry and Professor Mimi Sheller (now at the University of Drexel, USA). However, until quite recently the field has been associated primarily with the social sciences.

The virtual signing heralded the start of future staff/student exchanges, research collaborations and co-hosted events including seminars, webinars and summer schools. Both CeMoRe and the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing will be involved in these initiatives.

The MoU was signed by Lancaster’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global), Professor Simon Guy, and the Pro-Rector for International Relations of Padua University, Professor Alessandro Paccagnella, at the end of a two-day conference on mobilities and humanities between the two universities.

This MoU has come about as the result of recent collaborations between CeMoRe and colleagues at the newly formed Centre for Advanced Studies in Mobility and the Humanities (MoHu) at Padua.

MoHu has received five year’s funding to establish a world-leading centre in Mobility and the Humanities - a subfield first identified by Lancaster University’s Professor Lynne Pearce (based in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing) and Professor Peter Merriman (Geography, Aberystwyth) at a CeMoRe colloquium held at Lancaster in 2014.

Since then, humanities subjects such as literature, history and geography - as well as the visual arts - have begun to make a major contribution to mobilities research.

In 2019 one of MoHu’s post-doctoral fellows, Dr Margherita Cisani, came to CeMoRe as a Visiting Scholar and, during her stay, participated in a lunchtime seminar on mobility and landscape.

The event was such a success that Dr Cisani and Professor Pearce decided to plan a larger event on the same topic, to be co-hosted by CeMoRe and MoHu at Lancaster House Hotel.

However, as a result of the pandemic, the conference - entitled 'Unruly Landscapes’ - had to move online. The hard work and enthusiasm of the MoHu team - composed also by Dr. Laura Lo Presti, Giada Peterle and Chiara Rabbiosi - ensured that the conference was transformed into a successful virtual event with more than 40 participants and two plenary sessions which attracted audiences of more than 100.

The MoU was set up, from Padova, by Marco Bertilorenzi, Associate Professor of Economic History (Padova) and Silvia di Palma (international Partnerships Office), and from Lancaster, Professor Pearce (ELCW), Dr Yang Hu (Sociology) and Rosie Kennedy (International Partnerships Office).

In their closing remarks, Professor Guy and Professor Paccagnella observed that, in the wake of the pandemic, international collaborations of this kind were never more important.

Following an invitation from Professor Paccagnella, Professor Guy also encouraged staff and students from Lancaster to visit the University of Padua at the earliest opportunity when once again safe to do so. A guest there himself on two previous occasions, Professor Guy declared the University campus one of the most beautiful in the world.


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