JCU’s Programs for High Schools: How the University Reaches Out to the Local Community

John Cabot University organizes free online English language development programs that are available nation-wide to Italian high school students and teachers. Italy Reads, Italy Writes, Italy Pitches, and Italy Starts offer Italian students the opportunity to gain new skills and collaborate with JCU students while improving their English. These programs are offered under a framework agreement with the Italian Ministry of Instruction, Universities and Research (MIUR).

Students in the Lemon Tree Courtyard at JCU

Students preparing for one of JCU’s programs for high schools

Italy Reads was the first student outreach program started by JCU. It began in 2009 as a National Endowment for the Arts “Big Read Rome” and has been held annually since then.  Each year, a work of American literature is selected as focus of the program. Italian students and teachers read and discuss the literature, the life and historical context of the author in class and with JCU students. They can attend public lectures by academics in the field, interview the speakers and produce a newsletter, attend a performance related to the work produced by The English Theatre of Rome, and compete in a video contest. Teachers are invited to participate in professional development programs that bring them together with colleagues and JCU professors to share resources, lesson plans and best practices in teaching.

Italy Writes is a creative writing competition for high school students in Italy whose primary language of instruction is not English. Teaming up with one of the most highly ranked creative writing programs in America, the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, this JCU program offers teachers resources useful in their own in-class workshops with their students.

Italy Pitches, in collaboration with JCU’s Institute for Entrepreneurship, teaches students about advocacy and communication. Students learn about corporate social responsibility (CSR), creating shared value (CSV), and impact investing. They learn how to construct an advocacy narrative and how to translate it visually using digital skills. Students choose from a list of companies selected for their degree of CSR, study the company from the perspective of the UN SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) and compete in a video pitch contest.

Italy Starts brings together in teams Italian high school students and undergraduate JCU mentors who have experience in entrepreneurship. Each team works to develop a business idea to resolve a perceived environmental problem. Students learn essential team-working skills and gain understanding of the startup process. University mentors gain important cross-cultural experience and help create a collaborative community.

“University and high school students learn from each other about intercultural awareness, skills that empower and encourage them to discover new possibilities for their futures. Teachers are supported in their extraordinary efforts to guide their students toward proactive citizenship,” said Gina Spinelli, coordinator of the programs.

To learn more about these programs, visit Programs for High Schools (Programmi per le Scuole).