English-only Italian Universities? No, grazie.

English Only

From some days there is a political debate about language policy in Italian Universities, following the decision by a court to (re-)assert Italian as the national language of Italy and henceforth not to permit English-only courses, which would be a discrimination of Italian University students — mainly graduate and PhD — as Politecnico di Milano pretended — some other local Universities, such as Udine’s, are trying to do the adopt the same English-only policy. Nota bene: qui c’è il testo della sentenza del TAR sul sito ufficiale per chi volesse farsi un’idea. [Rough translation: link to the original Italian text with the motivations, for people interested.]

First, this is good news per se, that such a topic is finally debated in my country, as in the last 20 years Italy was mentioned in the international public opinion almost only for the marvellous adventures of Mr Bunga Bunga. At least, this is a topic worth a public debate!

To have a comparison, in the same days the French left-winged newspaper Libération opened its first page in English on order to welcome the new law that let some courses to be taught in English in French Universities, because foreign students in French are only 12 per cent.

Please note the difference: in France they are debate to have some University classes in English, while in Italy we debate to have English-only Universities.

In Italian University courses, Italian-English bilingualism is the de facto standard in many hard science curricula. This is easy to explain, as professors and researchers live in a situation of academic diglossia: we teach in Italian but publish in English. That’s why many presentations, slides, textbooks and so forth are available only in English, for a lot of disciplines. Nevertheless, there are a lot of disciplines which are deeply linked to the language used to give lectures. For example, do you think that learning the history of Europe in English or Italian would be the same? Of course not! And please, stop repeating the mantra: “this is valid only for the humanities”, because mathematics, logics, chemistry, natural sciences have a amount of literature also in French and German — at least.

Bur there is another argument against an English-only policy in Universities. it is completely unfair for Italians to force classes with only Italians in to be taught in English, as suggested by the Politecnico’s proposal. And rather stupid: in the global market of English-speaking Universities, an Italian English-only one would be marginal: if I were a foreign student who wants to go to an English-speaking University, I would definitely not choose Italy as my first choice, but the UK and Ireland (first choice), or a University in the North countries (second choice). Again, not surprisingly: in the North countries they speak English better than in the South countries — after all, English is a German language, such as German, Dutch, Swedish, and so on, so that they put less effort to learn English than people speaking a Romance language such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian.

That said, I’m not living in the Moon. I am perfectly aware that in the present-day European Union, only a good command of English let people, researchers, professors and students move abroad more or less easily. But this does not imply that we should use only English in Universities! Multilingualism is the European strength: for example, foreign students at the University of L’Aquila follow international degree courses in English and take classes of the Italian language at the same time. Joint degrees between Universities from different countries is a good way to have multilingual curricula — I’m not saying necessarily in English, take care! Some friends told me that Italy and France have international degrees where the thesis is written in French, with summaries in Italian, and discussed twice so to be valid in Italy and in France either. I think is a good strategy.

We should consider a bilingual curricula as a plus, comparing to English-only countries, which are often prisoned behind their monolingualism. A great book by Robert Phillipson told us about the risks of an English-only EU (suggested reading).

And, in case of any doubt, I think we have other options than English for the role of vehicular language in the European Union, as I already publicly said in 2005 in a journal paper. Please download and enjoy.

Seminario di filosofia dell’informatica presso l’Università dell’Aquila

Settimana prossima sarò a L’Aquila, su invito della collega professoressa Stefania Costantini.

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Il giorno 9 Maggio 2012, presso l’Aula C1.15 dell’edificio di Coppito 2 (Universita’ degli Studi dell’Aquila, sede di Via Vetoio), il Dr. Federico Gobbo dell’Universita’ dell’Insubria terra’ i seguenti seminari, rivolti agli studenti del Dottorato
di Ricerca in Informatica e Applicazioni ed aperti a tutti gli interessati.

Ore 11:30
Epistemologia dell’Informatica

L’incontro parte dalla presentazione delle due matrici che hanno dato fondamento alla disciplina: dal lato filosofico, l’Epistemologia nasce come una branca della filosofia analitica anglo-americana; dal lato informatico, l’Epistemologia eredita alcune tematiche fondamentali dell’Intelligenza Artificiale. Tali matrici si intrecciano di continuo, e non sempre e’ facile orientarsi: nel seminario, verra’ fornita una sorta di mappa concettuale a questo scopo. Particolare attenzione verra’ data al metodo dell’esperimento mentale, dal classico test di Turing – di recente tornato in voga in occasione dell’Alan Turing Year – alla Stanza Cinese di Searle fino a Floridi e Gobbo.

Attualmente le direzioni di ricerca ruotano attorno a due paradigmi di riferimento:
(1) la Filosofia dell’Informazione o Philosophy of Information di Luciano Floridi (Universities of Oxford and Hertfordshire) e collaboratori; (2) la Philosophy of Computing, dove vengono riconsiderati diversi concetti della computazione (e della
computabilita’, tra cui l’uso di diverse logiche non-classiche).

L’incontro verte sulla presentazione e discussione dei due paradigmi, alla luce dei risultati raggiunti e soprattutto di quelli ancora da raggiungere.

Ore 15:00
Etica dell’Informatica

L’etica dell’informatica nasce a meta’ degli anni 1980 con due matrici parallele e indipendenti: il lavoro sul fondamento della Computer Ethics da parte di Deborah Johnson, nato da una riflessione della filosofia morale di stampo utilitaristico e pragmatista, basato induttivamente sul metodo dei casi, e la riflessione sulle implicazioni socio-politiche del modello di produzione del software, da parte della Free Software Foundation e del progetto GNU di Richard Stallman.

A differenza dell’Epistemologia, esistono diverse correnti in Etica dell’Informatica, spesso indipendenti le une dalle altre, che fanno riferimento sostanzialmente al tipo di problema affrontato: oggi non si discute pi´u solo di privacy o proprieta’ intellettuale (il cosiddetto PAPA), ma anche di citizen journalism, blogging, politica 2.0 (e-government), divario digitale, accesso internet e minori, e così via.

L’incontro intende mostrare come molti settori, anche altamente specialistici come per esempio il computer trusting, abbiano risvolti etici spesso non ancora esplorati adeguatamente.

German language mapping at the Free University of Bozen – Bolzano


Seems to be very interesting for linguists interested in the subject. I’m afraid but I won’t be there for other engagements!

La kanalo pri mia kurso en Hajnano

Iom post iom mi eldonos ĉiun filmeton de la lecionaro pri Filozofio kaj Historio de Informatiko ĉi-tie. Mi malkovris, ke YouTube permesas al mi alŝuti pli altkvalitan version ol tiun en Vimeo kaj Ipernitio. Strange, sed vere. Do, laŭeble elektu ĉi-tiun jutuban kanalon.

Seminar on Neology and specialised translation

FYI:

Brussels 29 April 2011:

Neology and specialised translation

4th joint seminar organised by CVC (http://cvc.ehb.be) and Termisti (http://www.termisti.org/)

Institut supérieur de traducteurs et interprètes,
Haute École de Bruxelles, 34, rue Joseph Hazard
B-1180 Brussels

http://www.termisti.org/seminar2011.htm

European Encounters: Intellectual Exchange and the Rethinking of Europe (1918-1945)

FYI

European Encounters
Intellectual Exchange and the Rethinking of Europe (1918-1945)
An international and interdisciplinary Conference, 27- 28 january 2011

European Studies Department of the University of Amsterdam in cooperation
with the Huizinga Institute for Cultural History

Interwar Europe had a lively intellectual scene that crossed national boundaries.
Writers and artists met in the framework of avant-garde movements, at literary
conferences and at cultural gatherings. Academics travelled across Europe, searching
for academic exchange and for academic safe havens in troubled times. Cities like
Berlin, Paris and Moscow were the focal points of European encounters, harboring
eager young artists, established intellectuals and lost emigrés and exiles.
In the aftermath of the Great War these intellectuals started rethinking
European civilization. The shaping of ideas about the ‘renewal’ of Europe was
strongly connected with the emergence of transnational contacts among writers, artists
and academics. They exchanged ideas, but also found inspiration across national
borders. For example, writers turned to Russian literature to revitalize lost European
values. Others were inspired by the Habsburg Count Coudenhove-Kalergi to shed
national skins and to strive for European federal solutions. Catholic inclined
intellectuals advocated neocorporatism as coined by Salazar or Mussolini. Left wing
intellectuals attempted to combine soviet style socialism with French artistic traditions.
This conference aims to investigate thoughts about Europe as the outcome of
transnational intellectual encounters between 1914 and 1945. We invite papers that
explore the ideas itself, as well as the intellectual networks and personal contacts
among writers and artists.
We especially encourage submissions on:
* Avant-garde networks
* The city as a meetingplace of intellectuals
* (Pan-)European projects
* Transnational political movements
* Psychoanalyst cercles
* International cooperation in science
* The Esperanto movement
* The concept of intellectual exchange
Duration papers: 20 minutes
Papers will be published after the conference.
The organizing committee:
Carlos Reijnen C.W.C.Reijnen@uva.nl
Marleen Rensen M.J.M.Rensen@uva.nl
European Studies Department
University of Amsterdam
Spuistraat 134
1012 VB Amsterdam

Second International Workshop on the Philosophy of Information

FYI:

SECOND INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF INFORMATION

May 20-21, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey

The annual workshop on the philosophy of information is organized by the
research group on Philosophy of Information (GPI) of the University of
Hertfordshire and the Information Ethics Research Group (IEG) of the
University of Oxford. The first workshop was held in November 2007 at the
University of Oxford. The second one will take place May 20-21 in Ankara,
Turkey, hosted by the Philosophy Department of Bilkent University. The
third will be held in November 2010 at the Center for Logic and Philosophy
Science of Brussels Free University. The annual workshop series aims to
provide an informal environment in which scholars working on the
Philosophy of Information can share their works in progress without any
time constraint. The main topic of the second workshop is the formal and
ethical aspects of the philosophy of information. For details as to the
content and how to participate, please contact the local organizer, Hilmi
Demir, at hilmi@bilkent.edu.tr.

Location: Bilkent University Campus, Ankara, Turkey

Confirmed Speakers: Luciano Floridi, Alexandru Baltag, Sebastian
Sequoiah-Grayson, Mariarosaria Taddeo, Sonja Smets, Patrick Allo, Giuseppe
Primiero, Matteo Turilli, David Davenport, Christoph Schulz