Last week, we sat down with Tiziana Crispino, a PhD student from Italy currently visiting the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health at GCU, to hear about her experience with the EU FAB-MOVE project and her time here in Glasgow.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Tiziana Crispino, 30 years old, Italian PhD student from the University of Calabria. I live with my husband Francesco in a little village named Soveria Mannelli exactly in the middle of Calabria region. My interests of research concern the field of Political Science, in particular public policy analysis, and the main topic of my thesis is the study of the role of Social Enterprises in the Governance processes with particular attention at one specific policy subsystem: urban regeneration inspired by social innovation. This research will be developed by comparing a range of Scottish and Italian cases studies. I have a background in Public Administration and in Political Science and went on to complete a Master’s degree in Management of Public Administration.
What is FAB-MOVE and how did you get involved with it?
FAB-MOVE, “For a Better Tomorrow: Social Enterprises on the Move”, funded by the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE), is international project which promotes the exchange of researchers and practitioners from 17 countries worldwide. The main purpose is to observe the way through which social enterprises can grow and flourish. I’m involved in this project because the university department in which I work is one of the academic partners of project. For me, this represents a fantastic opportunity to learn more about social enterprise and to learn new ways through which to address social needs.
Why did you choose to come to Glasgow?
I’ve always been attracted to places with great contradictions in terms of natural resources, economic resources and hospitality, such as in the southern Italy. Glasgow is a big city characterized by a long tradition of blue collar jobs that suffered through the processes of de-industrialisation. It has, however, been able to redesign its future and become prosperous although the wellbeing gaps between different parts of the city are still very high.
The warmth and hospitality of Glasgow is very rare and appears to be a defining characteristic of the city. Although, my language was not perfect I never felt like an outsider – both the city and the university was so welcoming and living in university accommodation enabled me to make friends from the outset.
What are you working on whilst you are here?
In the last four months whilst in the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health I have developed my research with the support and advice of the staff and students within in the Centre. The Yunus Centre was a very exciting place to be part of – diverse, young and dynamic. I also had the opportunity to see first-hand the great work of the Inverclyde Community Development based in Port Glasgow, an extraordinary social enterprise committed to tackling complex social exclusion issues by adopting innovative methods. Seeing these committed and hardworking modern-day heroes putting social innovation into practice gave me a huge amount of hope for the future.
How does your PhD link with the work you are doing over here?
FAB-MOVE was useful because it allowed me to observe closely a social enterprise in a new context and enabled me to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the social entrepreneurship models across Scotland and Italy. In addition to this I was able to witness, through meetings and interviews with experts and practitioners, the challenges and opportunities that are associated with social enterprise in the contemporary world.
How has the Glasgow experience been for you so far – are you enjoying your visit?
Yes, very much. I hope to have further opportunities to return to Glasgow because it is a favourable environment for research and I loved many aspects of the city. I love the fact that cultural events are more affordable, making it accessible for everyone to benefit from these.
What have been the highlights and main challenges of the FAB-MOVE project for you?
I think one of the main challenges that I have gathered from the FAB-MOVE project is one faced by the whole social enterprise sector – the need to maintain their own independence from both the private sector and from the State. Social enterprises occupy an important space and should seek to avoid the third sector becoming dominated by market forces at the expense of the vulnerable individuals that they are designed to support.
The highlights have been the ability to see this model in practice in Scotland, sharing knowledge with my colleagues in the Yunus Centre and meeting all my new Glaswegian friends.
What do you have planned for when you head back to Italy?
On my return to Italy I will continue with my PhD research and the first thing which I will do is to share this enriching experience with my professors and colleagues. I hope to keep in touch with wonderful people I have met in Scotland to continue to enrich myself both professionally and personally.
Many thanks to Tiziana for visiting us here in Glasgow and sharing her story with us. We wish her all the best with her studies and hope she comes back to visit us at GCU soon! For more information on the FAB-MOVE project visit: http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/200055_en.html