Bocconi Has Opened the Academic Year 2021 2022: Sustainability Through Digital
SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH DIGITAL, THIS IS THE MOTTO OF THE INAUGURATION CEREMONY, WHICH SAW THE PARTICIPATION OF PRESIDENT AND VICE CHAIR OF MICROSOFT BRAD SMITH AND EXPLORED THE EMERGING CHALLENGES FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW. IMPORTANT NEWS INCLUDED THE PRESENTATION OF THE NEW DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTING SCIENCES AND THE SUSTAINABILITY REPORT OF THE UNIVERSITY
We can no longer afford a kind of capitalism that is not sustainable. The consequences of climate change and the widening gaps in inequality remind us of this every day. And the Covid 19 pandemic has proven this the hard way over the last two years. However, we have a very powerful weapon in our hands: digital. Thanks to it, we can truly plan for and design a more sustainable future. This is the message that today emerged from the inauguration of Bocconi’s academic year 2021-2022, the 120th year of the University. Appearing as guest speaker was Brad Smith, President and Vice Chair of Microsoft, and Bocconi President Mario Monti and Rector Gianmario Verona outlined the goals achieved in the past academic year by the institution, in the presence of Bocconi Vice President Andrea Sironi and Managing Director Riccardo Taranto.
“We need a new strategy for sustainable development,” said Mario Monti. “Coming generations deserve a better world, where progress does not come at the expense of their health and that of the planet. The lesson learned during the pandemic has taught us that we need a joint effort by national governments, regional and global organizations, starting with Europe. Awareness of the links between climate change, biodiversity, human health and economic and social development must guide us in designing a new culture whose foundations rest on a university system capable of anticipating and interpreting the new challenges and training generations of leaders capable of adapting to change”.
“Until recently, sustainability was often more a fad than an actual behavioral practice”, underlined Bocconi Rector Gianmario Verona in his address. “Now, however, we must move quickly towards sustainable capitalism, and to achieve it we need to rethink the workings of firms. They must evolve from an analog profit-making machine towards a sustainable company based on digital infrastructure and oriented towards attaining economic and social values. Thanks to digital technology we are becoming better at measuring macro and micro phenomena and imagining innovations to reorganize the processes of institutions and reduce the polluting impact of supply chains that are no longer sustainable. Digital, which allows information to be transformed into knowledge, represents the infrastructure around which the sustainable industrial future can be designed”.
BOCCONI AND DIGITAL
By interpreting this challenge, Bocconi has worked over the last five years to enhance its digital infrastructure in research and teaching by calling in new professors and designing new academic programs. It is a path that in academic year 2021-2022 will be completed by the activation of the new Department of Computing Sciences, which can count on an international faculty team. In addition to computer science, these experts are engaged in the development of innovative information technologies with wide-ranging applications (in artificial intelligence, health science, pattern recognition, and for digital society in general) which apply computational thinking to mathematics, physics and the life sciences, fully aware of the ethical aspects and social consequences of technological innovation.
Just a few days ago, an agreement was signed with the Algorand Foundation for the creation of the Algorand Fintech Lab, which will be guided by Professor Claudio Tebaldi. In particular, the lab's research activity will focus on the four strands of central bank digital currency and monetary policy: crypto-assets and financial markets, fintech, and blockchain.
Thanks to the work done by BUILT - Bocconi University in Learning and Teaching, the University has also launched BEL22, Bocconi Elearning 2022, which supports the evolution of our teaching model, in order to include ever more effectively the digital dimension in teaching. Several innovations have already been implemented this year. Among them, from the point of view of support to teaching, is the creation of the Faculty Training Hub; from the point of view of campus facilities, there is the further 'digital transformation' of classrooms, whose best expression is the new immersive room, a classroom with 12 screens that can be experienced both in presence and remotely, and in the two modes simultaneously as well.
BOCCONI AND ESG PRINCIPLES
If digital is the infrastructure of sustainable capitalism, its beating heart must be ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) principles. On this front, Bocconi's commitment concerns research, teaching, its Campus, and the various support and inclusion initiatives presented in the Sustainability Report.
On the research front, in 2021 Bocconi launched two new initiatives within the GREEN Research Center: the Observatory on Public Procurement and Sustainability, which will be a reference point for operators and stakeholders in the field of public procurement, and the SUR - Sustainable Urban Regeneration Lab, born thanks to the support of Hines, Intesa Sanpolo, MilanoSesto and Prelios. The objective is to study and promote sustainable urban regeneration. In addition, SDA Bocconi School of Management has created the ESG Lab excellence in Sustainability and Governance promoted with the Sodalitas Foundation and the support of the Enel Foundation and Falck Renewables, which helps SMEs on the road to sustainability; the MOBIUS Lab, on smart mobility, thanks to the partnership with the Atlantia group; and the SDALab REPAiR, devoted to sustainable finance.
On the teaching front, in 2020 there were 88 sustainability-related courses (compared to 26 in 2019) attended by 5,361 students (compared to 3,062 in the previous year).
The work for an increasingly sustainable campus had resulted in the recent attainment of the LEED Platinum certification for the new SDA Bocconi headquarters and a constant reduction in resource consumption. Although data is only partially comparable due to the lower influx of students during the pandemic, water consumption dropped from 144,679 cubic meters in 2017 to 86,620 in 2020. Savings in paper consumption, thanks to the dematerialization of documents that Bocconi has been pursuing for years, have risen from 895,000 sheets in 2017 to 1,842,000 in 2020.
Finally, on the front of the management of inclusion and diversity, among other initiatives on the issue, 2021 saw the appointment of a Diversity Delegate for each Department and the development of projects such as the first report on Inclusive Gender Equality, which will be presented at the beginning of 2022, and the Alias Career program to foster the inclusion of transgender students, faculty and staff within the Bocconi community, which will be implemented in 2022.
BOCCONI AND ITS HUMAN CAPITAL
The goal of higher education to promote an all-round vision of sustainability cannot but include the constant improvement of human capital. 29 new faculty members have joined the core faculty, 6 of which are Associate Professors and Full Professors. The Bocconi faculty thus grows to 398 members (+ 55.8% compared to 2016), 23.6% of whom have an international passport.
A Bocconi that is increasingly attractive not just for faculty, but also for students: for this academic year, applications have increased by 54.6% compared to 2015-16, and the growth is +120% if only international students are considered. Today Bocconi has 15,000 students, 21.2% of which are international students (the percentage reaches 40% when only programs taught in English are considered). Investment to support the inclusion of deserving students regardless of their economic and social background will also be increased: in this academic year, over €38 million will be disbursed to students in the form of scholarships and financial aid (+48% compared to 2015-16).
Two authoritative sources have acknowledged the quality of the work of Bocconi University and SDA Bocconi in 2021, which this year has been celebrating its 50th anniversary: Bocconi’s 16th position in the world ranking and 4th place for Social Sciences & Management in Europe according to QS World University Rankings, and the entry of SDA Bocconi School of Management into the list of BSIS-labeled schools, i.e. business schools whose impact on the territory is measurable.