Dean Celenza Discusses the Liberal Arts with Eni Chair

College Dean Chris Celenza speaks with Eni Chair Emma Marcegaglia on a stage

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May 9, 2019 — The Italian Embassy hosted an event last month on “Liberal Education and Leadership,” featuring Georgetown College Dean Chris Celenza and Dr. Emma Marcegaglia, president of Luiss University of Rome and Chair of Eni, a major Italian energy company.

“We are honored to have Dr. Marcegaglia with us at Georgetown,” College Dean Chris Celenza said. “A highly accomplished business leader, she has also taken an abiding interest in higher education and used it in transformative ways.”

Following opening remarks from Ambassador Armando Varicchio, Celenza framed the conversation as a discussion of the state of the liberal arts education as it relates to the modern world.

Marcegaglia argued that innovation and international cooperation should be at the heart of all policymaking, and that corporations need to take a leading role in progressive issues.

“We must remain open to the world, first of all within our culture, which must be based on tolerance, open to commerce, and open culturally in redesigning multilateral institutions,” she said. “Companies should assume responsibility, should be part of solutions to problems such as climate change and inequalities, and must invest in training and gender equality.”

Marcegaglia also emphasized the role of the universities to model their educational systems with these values in mind: pursuit of truth, commitment to civility, and knowledge of and respect for other cultures. A liberal arts core with a strong humanities component is, she believes, key to any successful educational model — and to supplying the global economy with creative minds.

“I contend that arts and humanities must complement the social and hard sciences in undergraduate and graduate programs,” Marcegaglia said. “Arts and humanities develop critical thinking, which strongly complements the scientific approach. Humanities offer the playground for creativity and imagination.”

To conclude the event, Marcegaglia and Celenza fielded questions related t the role of the humanities in the formation of future leaders. Their discussion drew positive reviews.

“I personally learned a great deal and was inspired by the in-depth discussion on the topic of the critical link between the values of a Liberal Education in professional leadership,” said Professor Serafina Hager, Director of the Italian Research Institute.

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