Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Research Topics

Area: Theory of Education and Social Pedagogy


prof. Milena Santerini, Dr. Silvio Premoli

The Research Team, which refers to the Research Centre on Intercultural Relationships, Catholic University of Milan, undertakes high quality policy-related research on a variety of theoretical and applied Social Pedagogy areas, employing a broad range of qualitative methods. Our unit is at the forefront of policy and service development for children, adolescents, families and vulnerable people.

Our main research themes are:

Intercultural Education
Intercultural Competence Development
Cultural Dialogue
Education against prejudice and discrimination
Global Education
International Cooperation
Citizenship Education and Global Citizenship Education
Holocaust Education
Social Pedagogues Education and Training
Teacher Education and Training
Student Voices in Education
Adult Education and Life-Long Learning
Diversity Management
Community-based Interventions and Empowerment
Children's Rights
Child Participation
Child and Family Welfare
Child Residential and Foster Care
Inter-country Adoption
Early Child Education and Care





prof. Livia Cadei, prof. Domenico Simeone

The group formed within the REF (Réseau international de recherche en éducation et en formation), continues its research on the subject « Apprentissage et développement professionnel en formation et en situation de travail ». 

The research aims to explore and to describe the relationship between professional working culture and professional training culture.


prof. Livia Cadei

Divergent, provocative but also creative and lively, humour interests  pedagogy. Research questions investigate whether and how humour can play a role and have an impact on the different social and educational backgrounds.
On Charter of educating cities (RICE - "Réseau International de Cités de l'Education" – Université  Mons-Hainault, Belgium), the research aims to investigate the approaches towards participated planning and co-construction knowledge, tracking theoretical, conceptual foundations and methodological options into practices and projects.


Dr. Marisa Musaio

Dr. Musaio’s research interests include the pedagogy of the cycle of life and intercultural pedagogy. She has researched the hermeneutics of the person and “human educability” for educating personal creativity and potentialities in all ages of life, to support the discovery and construction of personal talents and self-fulfilment of young adults with references to "Neet" conditions. The most recent research areas include:

- education to personal identity;

- personal creativity with reference to aesthetic sensitivity and arts in education;

- hermeneutics of different forms of personal vulnerabilities and fragilities, also with regard to the current cross-cultural context and new poverty.


Dr. Alessandra Gargiulo Labriola

Alessandra Gargiulo Labriola aims to carry out the development of this research area:

Competence in the contexts of work and of the educating community. The research aims to investigate the educational competence and its practical aspect in the perspective of tangible and intangible capabilities.

The research focuses on the contribution of vocational training to the development of the competence of educators in a transformative learning process and social development.

The survey aims to investigate the potential of education in non-formal and informal learning contexts detectable where an educational competency model is applicable.

Prof. Monica Amadini

Children have their own way of living in space and time. The unique perspective with which they inhabit the existential categories makes them "expert" inhabitants of the world. The focus on children's skills in the representation of space obliges us to find methodological approaches that enable children to realize their potential and to give voice to their peculiar vision of the world (see in particular the Mosaic Approach, a device that combines a framework of different tools and enables children to give voice to their experiences).


prof. Pierluigi Malavasi

The research project "Integral Ecology, Environmental Education and Training" targets the following topics:

1. Circular Economy, Integral Ecology, Environmental Education.

Research, Educating for the covenant between humanity and the environment, Ecological Conversion.

2. Generational agreement and leadership between business and the environment

3. Schools, care for our common home

International strategic partnerships: Universitat de Barcelona, University of San Tichon of Mosca, University of Cambridge, Loyola University of Chicago


Dr. Cristina Birbes

Dr. Cristina Birbes' research focuses on the following areas:

1. School education, development, integral ecology education

2. Educational environments, childhood, sustainability framework

3. Food, learning, lifestyle: educational issues

International strategic partnerships: Universitat de Barcelona, University of Cambridge


Dr. Alessandra Vischi

The research project developed by Alessandra Vischi is of wide scope and it develops over three different research areas:

Pedagogy of work , educational design for integral ecology
Culture of cooperation (networking), pedagogy of organizations and circular economy
Higher education, sustainability, scientific research (about environmental communication, sustainable mobility, green jobs). 

Her research concerns the international partnership with Universitat de Barcelona, The University of Cambridge and The University of San Tichon - Mosca.


Prof. D. Bruzzone –Dr. E. Musi

Philosophical foundations of education from a phenomenological perspective.

Epistemological and anthropological fundamentals of education are explored through a phenomenological-existential approach. Considering tangible experience as a starting point for reflection, phenomenology combines the accuracy of theoretical analysis with the concreteness of educational processes, stressing the bodily, sensitive and emotional roots of human cognition, action and dignity.

Emotional skills training in helping professions.

The helping professions are concerned on a daily basis with interpersonal relationships that imply motivational and emotional engagement. Theoretical and methodological research on the emotional life is required, in order to provide pedagogical criteria for the professionals' initial and continuing education and to prevent burn-out syndrome in education, healthcare and social work.

Childhood and adolescence - education and care.

Children and adolescents' education and care is pivotal as regards global citizenship in a learning society. Educational and social services for younger people and their families, in the context of a generative welfare system, is a strategic investment to support their growth process and promote their rights and potential.

Gender diversity and affective education.

Teaching gender differences and promoting their interaction and integration in schools, workplaces and society is unavoidable nowadays, if we wish to foster equal opportunities for men and women and to protect weak subjects of any kind from prejudice, discrimination and violence.



Area: History of education


Prof.  Simonetta Polenghi, Prof. Carla Ghizzoni, Prof. Sabrina Fava

The research projects carried out by the professors of history of education revolve around the following topics:


Prof. Simonetta Polenghi

* History of pedagogy and teacher training in the Habsburg Empire (XVIII-XIX century)

* History of childhood (Modern age-XX century; methodology)

* History of special education (XIX-XX century)

* History of female education (XIX-XX century)

* Education and media (Television and movies) in the XX century


Prof. Carla Ghizzoni

* History of education during Fascism

* School and work in Italy (XIX-XX century)

* Teacher training and culture of elementary school teachers in Italy between Unification and Fascism

* Teachers’ trade unions between the end of the XIX century and Fascism

* History of pedagogy and of school in Italy (XIX-XX century)

* Female education (XIX-XX century)


Prof. Sabrina Fava

* Children and young people’s magazines between 1800 and 1900: editors’ plans and educational and historical background; literary texts; pictures, adverts; texts of information; ideal and real readers.

*  History of children’s publishing houses within the processes and systems of cultural industry.

* Epistemological questions of pedagogy of reading in the dialogue between author, literary text and reader.


AREA: Didactics/teaching and learning


prof. Pier Cesare Rivoltella, prof. Pierpaolo Triani, prof. Paolo Ardizzone, Dr. Simona Ferrari, Dr. Alessandra Carenzio

Research topics:

-  innovation in teaching and learning, with specific attention paid to the use of mobile devices, gaming and gamification, the change in learning environments and in teaching processes;

-  inclusion of special educational contexts, such as "School in Hospital" and geographical areas with specific social needs, like mountain areas or local areas with high levels of immigration and social difficulties;

-  neuroscience, learning and teaching;

- digital citizenship: 1) methodologies and curricula of Media Education in school contexts; 2) Peer and Media Education, collaborating with health care providers for the prevention of and educational intervention on adolescents’ risky behaviour;

- study of stable forms of contrasting school dropout in secondary schools, with an analysis of the main organizational arrangements activated for preventing school discomfort.



AREA: Special education


Prof. Luigi D’Alonzo, prof. Elena Zanfroni, prof. Silvia Maggiolini

The research group led by professor Luigi D’Alonzo developed studies focused on special educational needs with particular attention to:


Classroom management and differentiation: strategies and tools in teaching practice for different educational needs

Nowadays, the teacher has an increasing responsibility and s/he plays a key role in the scholastic success of all students including those with particular needs, such as a condition of disability or learning difficulty. In order to respond to all the different ways that students learn, it is necessary to envisage a different way of teaching. Teachers can differentiate at least four classroom elements based on student readiness, interest, or learning profiles: content, process, products and the learning environment (Tomlinson, 2006; Tomlinson 2010).

Our research group works on these issues, moving from the theoretical framework of effective teaching that aims to develop skills and abilities for every pupil.


Disabilities and family relationships

The challenges related to different conditions of disability engage not only the single individual, but also those who take care of him/her, first and foremost parents, relatives, teachers, specialists and the whole community. The family, as the primary framework for each member and a fundamental social unit, should be the object of special attention by society, supported as it grows but also as regards dealing with the education and development of their children.

For these reasons, our team is engaged in various active research projects as well as being involved in training and consulting for families who have special educational needs.


Autism Spectrum Disorders: educational challenges in scholastic and extra-scholastic environment

Autism is a very complex condition whose peculiarities are reflected in every aspect of the child's life, both in the scholastic and extra-scholastic context. Even if the number of autism diagnoses is very significant, much is still unknown about this condition. 

For educational planning to be successful, the characteristics of this condition must be established precisely; consequently, it is important for teachers and educators who work with autistic children in different educational contexts to have suitable training.

Transforming Educational Practice in Autism: enhancing the skills, knowledge and understanding of teachers in the UK, Italy and Greece. This is the goal of an Erasmus Plus project that involved our research team as well as those in the UK and Greece.


Educational research in a marginality context

Special Education is a wide field which includes not only the disability challenges but also the pedagogical intervention in marginalized or discriminated groups. In particular, a very interesting research topic is the project carried out in collaboration with the Correctional Facility in Opera, Milan in order to support and to improve the pedagogical resources of imprisoned fathers.


Technologies for inclusion: strategies, opportunities and implications for education

The use of ICT in teaching and learning  is a priority in policies both in the EU and nationally. In particular, new technologies could provide a very important opportunity to promote the inclusion for people with special educational needs. Technology can become a tool to personalize learning and to meet the needs of all students in the classroom and for students with disabilities it could be a real way to improve their well-being. To promote research in the field of inclusive education also means to experience the role of ICT in classroom management in order to identify best practices in the teaching process.


Prof. Mariateresa Cairo

For the year 2017 my priority will be the quality of life at home, at school and in the community of children, young adults and aging people suffering from  frailty, various disabilities and other difficulties. I will pay attention to the contribution of school integration, social inclusion, social housing, the transition to work and support work, friendship, leisure activities, the quality of life and well-being  of people with  autism, ADHD, learning disabilities and other difficulties.

The impact of relationships with animals, proactive experience in nature (fauna and flora and farming) will also be included in my research subject.

School is a special and important place for everyone: education and learning are a right for everyone everywhere in the world. 




Area: Experimental education


Prof. Renata Maria Viganò, prof. Katia Montalbetti

Our research aims to contribute to scientific knowledge in the educational field and to support the informed development of public policy and professional practice.

Our themes can be organized into four main topics: research, training, evaluation and policy.


Research - Issues

Methodological devices to facilitate communication and interaction between academic researchers, practitioners and policymakers.
Participatory research, action research, collaborative inquiry into stress theory and practice interaction.
Mixed-methods research.


Training - Issues

Research training as a means to support teachers' initial training and in-service education.
Research into a teacher's professional competence to plan, act and evaluate educational activities.
Training strategies to support continuing education among teachers and educational practitioners.
Training strategies to support academic and educational achievement.
Reflective practice in educational contexts: approaches, strategies and devices.
Doctoral training: models and perspectives.
School, Teacher and Leader Effectiveness.


Policy - Issues

Analysis of school and university policy.
Analysis of educational systems.
Analysis of doctoral education systems in Italy and in the international context.
Analysis of policy related to educational and academic achievement in Italy and in the international context.


Evaluation - Issues

Assessment and (self)evaluation models and practices in different educational contexts.
Assessment tools in teacher's professional practice.


Area: Sport and fitness education


Prof. Francesco Casolo, Dr. Ferdinando Cereda

The research group consisting of Prof. Francesco Casolo, Dr. Ferdinando Cereda and other contract professors working at the Academic Sports Centre Rino Fenaroli, aims to carry out the development of the following research areas.

Primary school projects to monitor the children involved by measuring the following parameters: anthropometrics, cardio-respiratory capacity, musculoskeletal and motor fitness, cognitive capacities, enjoyment and motor habits.
Neuroscience in primary school which aims to explore and analyze the neuro-scientific contribution made in the last 20 years to the teaching and didactics of physical education in primary school. Over the last two years research has aimed at testing the EAS (Episodi di apprendimento situato - Located learning episodes) applied to physical education.
Research in education and career-long professional learning, analyzing the gaps between theory/research and practice studies, exploring the processes of teaching and coaching, the outcomes of such endeavours, and the content of fitness, physical education and sport programs from a comprehensive and multifaceted perspective.

Particular attention is given to teaching and training processes in the Health and Fitness area that brings together concerns regarding activities, behaviours and policies that pertain to maintaining and promoting health, fitness, well-being and also investigating the educational needs and the development of knowledge, skill and abilities of exercise professionals, emerging to the relationships with the pedagogical and professional competences of the players involved in the sporting process.

The results of the research projects concerned will be presented in national and international congresses: AIESEP, ECSS, SISMES, SIPED, SIRD and SIREM.