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The importance of networking in the academic community

Following our 2nd Summer School in Bologna, SIC interviewed Benedette, a PhD student at Yunus Centre for Social Business and health at Glasgow Caledonian University. She was one of the 50 participants to attend our Summer School in 2017. 

Tell me about yourself, your work and why you have chosen to participate at this Summer School?
I am at the second year of my PhD and my research focuses on social innovation policy in Italy and the UK. I am trying to understand how public and policy discourses on social innovation are shaped in these two very different contexts and who are the main actors involved. Prior to joining the Yunus Centre fo Social Business and Health I have been working both as a researcher and a practitioner for the third sector in Milan, in Italy.

Given my research interest on social innovation, the summer school looked as a great opportunity to meet practitioners and academics working on similar topics. I was looking for international events to get in touch with the European community working on social innovation and the summer school looked as a great chance for networking.

Moreover, since my research focuses also on the Italian context, I was very curious about the study visits to local initiatives.

What is the value of coming together as a european social innovation community at these events? Can you give examples?
First of all, I think that meeting both researchers and practitioners in this event was an important added value. I think that for PhD students it is important to create a professional network within the academic community, but also the contact with practitioners is a valuable experience, particularly studying a topic such as social innovation that is a practice-led field, where change is often driven by local initiatives and grassroots experiences.

A second important element was the network created between PhD students coming from different disciplines and universities. I have met many smart and curious young researchers and we are all interested in social innovation from different theoretical perspectives. I found this quite enriching and enlightening, since different approaches can help our research to be aware of the complexity of the topic.

What were your three most important take-aways from the event?

Surely the new relationships established. I hope I can keep in contact with some of the people I met and I am looking forward to meeting them again in some of the next events at European level.

I will also remember the wonderful hospitality of the city of Bologna, the great organisation of the five school and the amazing food that we enjoyed during our stay!