A Participatory Reworking of the Locus of
Italian Public Education

Rhode Island School of Design – Department of Architecture

Thesis Project

Primary Advisor: Amy Catania Kulper, PhD

Secondary Advisor: Jacqueline Shaw


This thesis proposes a bilateral revisionist history.

On the one hand, it intends to re-narrativize public education in Italy by critically examining the deep identity crisis of Italy’s education system. This has been brought about by a century of political, social and economic changes that have left their mark on the education system’s pedagogical positioning. On the other hand, my thesis also aims to question the loss of pedagogical innovations and educational best practices caused by an excessive modernization of schooling. Italy, a fertile land for pedagogical innovation, spearheaded by individuals such as Maria Montessori, Loris Malaguzzi and Alberto Manzi, has struggled to maintain innovative, child-centered learning practices within its own schools, often reverting back to the classical setup of educational institutions popularized by the National Fascist Party in the 20s and 30s. The biggest question posed by this thesis though is very simple: where are these children in this conversation?

This thesis rejects the notion that children are “adults in training” or “citizens of the future.” Contrarily, it positions them at the center of the conversation surrounding the construction of a new collective imaginary for the world of Italian education. This new imaginary is focused on the fundamental right of children to be –and grow to be– happy and safe.