An Interview with Giovanna Cosenza: Professor of Philosophy and Communications at the University of Bologna
Originally from Sicily, Professor Cosenza moved to Bologna to study philosophy with Umberto Eco and since then she has not left. She went on to get her doctorate in semiotics with Eco. After that, she became a researcher, then an associate professor and finally a full professor. Today, she is still at the University of Bologna where she teaches media & communications to Bachelor’s and Master’s students. She is also head of the undergraduate program in
Communication Studies at the University of Bologna. Today, she does research in the field of political communications, new media and the semiotics of consumption. Since December 2007
she has also run a blog on various topics related to communications, Dis.amd.iguando, and since December 2011, has contributed to a blog on Fattoquotidiano.it
We were able to catch up with Professor Giovanna Cosenza, and ask her a couple of questions regarding opportunities and obstacles students face nowadays.
Professor Giovanna Cosenza
Q: How important are international experiences for students today? If you were a student now, which internships or opportunities would you pursue and where?
A:The importance of international experience cannot be understated. The world is becoming
more international every day. Learning English is something that may scare many students, but it
is important not to get discouraged while facing this challenge. English will be crucial to their
professional futures. In Italy, you will always be able to come and go, so it is important to get
international experiences, especially in the new media and communication industry, and
experiences in Northern Europe and the U.S. are particularly valuable. When it comes to
internships, any international experience is key to career development and to improving job
prospects. It is also important to take advantage of any networks that you may have access to. I
have a lot of former students with whom I keep in touch, who are happy to help my current
students find new opportunities.
Q: How did you discover what you wanted to do in life? How would you advise your
students to look for their inner passions and talents?
A:I have always studied the humanities, I started with philosophy. You often hear people
saying that it’s difficult to find a job after studying the humanities. I beg to differ, after my
studies I started a web and media company. I find that in Europe people often underestimate the
value of individuals with degrees in the humanities. On the contrary, at companies like Google
and Facebook, many employees have such degrees and perform exceptionally. I think it is crucial
for students to follow their passions and talents when picking fields of study and opportunities.
Even if your studies may seem unrelated to your first jobs, you will find that you will be able to
use your studies in some way down the road.
Q: Have you ever studied abroad? If so, how did this experience affect you?
A:Yes, I studied abroad while I was doing my doctorate at Oxford, where I studied
philosophy of the mind. I went to get a different perspective on my studies, I was also curious
about the rest of the world, and of course Oxford is among the most reputed universities in my
field. I feel that this experience helped me to develop an international perspective, which later
had a significant influence on my work.
Q: How do you see the future of your most brilliant students in Italy (and elsewhere)?
A:The most brilliant students always find a job, but at the beginning I think that many
Italian students are too shy, but if they are resourceful enough and have got chutzpah, they’ll be
fine. In Italy it’s a little bit harder, but luckily in the field of digital media and web
communication there’s has never been a lack of work. If you are resourceful you will always be
able to adapt. For example, traditional journalism has been overtaken by new media, but the best
journalists have been able to adapt to this change over time.
Q: Have you ever had a brilliant student who did not live up to their potential due to the
lack of opportunities?
No, but I have had students that needed encouragement to go in a new direction, or to
take a different path than the one they had set out on, especially women. After some
encouragement they tend to be quite successful, because confidence brings results. Thankfully,
none of my best students have ever been faced with enduring failure. If that were to happen, I
think it would be due to laziness more than anything. If you work hard and strive to achieve your
goals you will find your path in life, both professionally and personally.
We would like to thank Professor Cosenza (Twitter) (Linkedin) for taking the time to speak to us about the
challenges and opportunities faced by students today. We wish her and her student the
best! — NUMA Barcelona & HeySuccess