A native of Puglia, Sara, 28 years old, can often be spotted in the photos taken during the Institute’s first academic year. After she enrolled in 2008/2009, and after completing her studies in Philosophy at the Salento University, Sara now works with the Trinitarian Ontology Department. When we met her she was among the 1st-year students in the class for the course, “Historical Profile of Philosophical Thought,” while she commented on the function of the intellect in Kant.
Could you give us an insight of your itinerary before coming to Sophia?
I had just taken my Bachelor’s degree in History of Philosophy at the Salento University and had enrolled for the first year of my specialisation. The pathway I was facing was clear-cut, but upon hearing in 2008 that IUS was about to open, I decided to take a break to enrol at Sophia. All was just beginning then…
What do you remember most of that first academic year?
A great adventure: there were 40 students in all from 16 nations and it was really a fascinating year. Each of us tried to give his very best since things were at the trial-run stage, from the running of the library to the schedules of the lessons. Each day we felt in some way like pioneers of an academic “happening” which involved us.
At Sophia I also represented the students in the Academic Council. This was an interesting experience; decision-making moments are not simple. The Institute’s councils and the first student assemblies became a testing ground in which we could concretely express that culture of unity we studied about in the classroom. With this spirit we tried to work on various organisational aspects of the Institute, also for the benefit of the future students.
How did your study path turn out?
Even if I attended only for a year, I did not lose touch with Sophia. On returning to Puglia I attended the last course in History of Medieval Philosophy as a student, and it was an unexpectedly decisive course which marked my encounter with Medieval Philosophy thanks to the lessons of a teacher, Alessandra Beccarisi, who managed to arouse in me a passion for the subject. At this point the two academic pathways sort of merged together in me, in a very natural way: the competencies of Theology and Biblical Exegesis acquired at Sophia completed my Medieval Philosophy studies. I was then awarded a research Doctorate in Philology and Text Hermeneutics at the Salento University’s History of Philosophy Department in co-tutelage with the Thomas Institut of Koln University. My doctoral paper, just completed, consisted in a critique edition of De Summo bono by Ulrich of Strasburg (chapters 7-29 of book VI).
Was it worthwhile to study in Sophia?
Undoubtedly! This experience consolidated all my knowledge and marked them up in a remarkable way. It helped me to destructure some cultural logics, perhaps a bit typical of western, monological and individualistic cultures, and educated me in interculturalism and trans-disciplinarity.
I understood more about what it means to be people in dialogue. We need first of all to discover ourselves in the context of dialogue with one’s own interiority: only then can we really confront ourselves with another person, the “other,” to face and try to go beyond the unconsciously closed mentality created by our cultural mindsets, to generate that fertile place – between yourself and another, between yourself and many others - that creates the academic community, and every other type of coexistence in general.
We could say that this was a real “workshop” of knowledge or life which is knowledge, creative and fertile, open to the cultures and worlds of today. All this has helped me to mature, open my horizon and be more aware of my cultural identity, and therefore also of my limits, for example, every time we work in research teams. With a metaphor I would say that this “school of dialogue” helps to give transparency to the eyes that look at things, clearing up intelligence and rendering it as such, generating, innovative and prepared for new challenges.