A System of Relationships for Politics

A System of Relationships for Politics

Interpreting complexity, deciding, intervening

Starting September 2012, Sophia’s academic programs will have three new specializations. Antonio Maria Baggio, department coordinator and professor of political philosophy, describes the characterizing elements of political studies



In the context of extreme fragmentation of interests and positions emerging in the public sphere, where we see local and global scenarios clash,  the ‘core business’ of political specialization is the relational dimension, as centre of competencies which the Masters’ Degree makes available to students. 


The project of political studies at the IUS is particularly rich.   What differentiates it from other academic institutions?

The determining contribution characterizing all studies at the IUS, is inter-disciplines. It isn’t simply placing different subjects dealing with politics side by side, as often happens:  one runs the risk of learning many things which, however, remain far from a dynamic vision of the whole.  At Sophia we try to make course subjects communicate between them and this is made possible by the fact that individuals communicate amongst themselves, building a study community based on communal life.  This means having continuous dialogue between students, with professors, amongst professors.  It seems to be a very decisive experience: the complexity of geopolitical situations require a mind capable of deciphering this complexity, of penetrating, even technically, in diverse aspects of problems, but knowing then, how to bring them to a unified vision.

Inter-disciplines is lived both within the department for political studies, where professors are philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, lawmakers, historians, etc.; and in relation to other departments of the IUS, gleaning important contributions from theological or scientific reflection, or from communication, to cite a few examples.  There comes from it a system of cognitive relations in which political knowledge acquires essential elements for understanding a world in which religious movements, scientific rationality, and various forms of communication, incise strongly on political policy.


What academic and professional qualifications does a political student acquire?


It’s obvious that a course of studies depends very much on the willingness and openness of each one, but I would say that a student at Sophia learns to interpret complexity, to make decisions, to intervene on reality.  ‘Comprehend, decide, and act’:  according to the inclinations and interests of each individual.  A student can apply these acquired abilities in a political and social commitment, or in an administrative and institutional job, in the management of a business or public relations, or yet again, to scientific research.  In any case, he/she will learn to face political realities in a balanced manner, able to recognize the numerous and varied relationships which interact between them, building the field of politics with its many complexities.


Another relevant aspect  of this program is the role reserved to ‘political operators’, that is, to members of parliament, diplomats, institutional directors, and party members, who have essential roles in sharing exercises which integrate with lessons given.  Discovering the interweaving of relationships in which one is immersed, while doing it through a real community of life and study, means also to discover important aspects, and perhaps totally new ones, about one self.  For this reason we count on launching as soon as possible an annual Master, besides the biannual Degree.  We called it:  ‘Integrated Political Relations’ and we intend to propose it in tutorial mode, to enable participation for those who work. 


One is struck by the centrality of the idea of universal fraternity: how can this incise on political relations and institutions?  


Studies on fraternity in its public, social and political dimensions are among the most relevant aspects of contemporary debate and professors at Sophia are greatly committed, having, rather, contributed to introducing the topic of fraternity inside political studies.  It is today’s political challenge:  to be able to realize liberty and equality for all human beings and all peoples, without repeating the ideological mistakes of the past, without using methodical violence, rather, through the development of real and effective fraternity.  How does one interpret fraternity politically?   Can it constitute a universal foundation for human rights, and in what way?  How can it build an open citizenship?   In what manner could it become a relational paradigm also in international relations?    These are the questions we are trying to give an answer to. 

At Sophia, we learn above all to ‘see’ fraternity, that is, to recognize it there where it is already being lived:  fraternity is not a pious desire, but an already active reality, which builds new social, economic and political realities.  In second place, we try to better elaborate it:  during the past few years theoretical elaboration has made it a cultural reference ever more relevant and solid, orienting decisions in law, becoming a point of reference both ideally and for planning by numerous social subjects.  All of this in constant integration with those same experiences, initiatives and movements which seek to translate fraternity into a language of public commitment.


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