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GIG 2020: A truly transformative immersion experience

Photo of Monash GIG students analysing the effects of climate change in Cinque Terre
The Global Immersion Guarantee (GIG) Program second edition in Prato

If the first edition of the Global Immersion Guarantee (GIG) program – as always the case with any new endeavour – was an experiment with resounding success, the question (and challenge) we faced was, could we replicate the same success for subsequent editions?  Thought-provoking final presentations, the addition of a new field site, friendships and emotional farewells, these are just some of the early indicators that suggest the second edition not only met but exceeded (at least our) expectations, as we wait for the official data to emerge. 

Over four weeks, nearly two hundred students from the Monash Arts faculty were asked to critically analyse and develop solutions to some of Italy’s most pressing sustainable development issues.  Specifically, students were exposed to different scenarios in the cities of Prato, Venice, Cinque Terre and Siena. 

In each of these locations students had the privilege to engage with experts and organisations in a variety of sectors: in Prato textile and dying firms Beste, Marini Industrie, Museo dell'Arte Tintoria, delle Energie Rinnovabili e dell'Ambiente, and Pontetorto lead the way in the recycling and circular economy; in Venice and Cinque Terre students tackled the issue of land consumption, mass tourism and landscape preservation through lectures given by experts and academics including Cà Foscari University, and through direct exploration of the landscapes.  Students who visited Siena discovered how, since 2011, the city has achieved and maintained its carbon-free status, and how the University of Siena and local government are successfully working together on a number of other important sustainability initiatives such as Plastic Busters, which aims to rid the Mediterranean sea of plastic.

All these unique learning experiences and opportunities were made possible also thanks to the presence and guidance of our group leaders, to whom we at Monash Prato owe a huge thank you: Associate Professor Kevin Foster, Associate Professor Kirsten McLean, Dr. Samuele Grassi, Dr. Matteo Dutto and Dr. Waleed Aly.

Best wishes to all students who have now returned home or who are continuing their travels in the hope that this overseas study experience will inspire to them to continue to broaden their horizons.