Last Thursday Professor Edo Poglia of the University of Lugano gave his Lezione di Commiato, which in English is usually called – with a more engaging title- The Last Lecture.
In one hour he had the challenging talk of talking us through his life in research, having now reached the retiring age of 70.
The ideas, thoughts, findings and provocative statements flew at a very fast pace throughout the talk, engaging the audience with his pungent humor and clear evidence based on hard data. The inputs for thoughts were many, intense, dense and surprising. The argumentation was clear and fast paced, so intense to leave at times the audience disconcerted in front of all that knowledge coming to the brain at such a high-speed that it was arduous to absorb.
Hi double background in Engineering and Sociology must have give him the impressively broad view on the different streams of research, which he illustrated through the metaphor of geological faults. He emphasised the need to observe social reality from different angles. For this reason he created a model, a schema of analysis, consisting of six dimensions:
He has used this schema since the 80s to drive his research, and the findings are impressive.
A summary of his work and of the talk is an impossible task, ranging from education, to migrants, to intercultural communication; I would just like to give a couple of examples.
For instance he investigated the values of students of different cultures and disciplines, to understand if differences in values are given more by culture of origin, or by the discipline.
In the picture below we can see that people belonging to the sector “industry and constructions” compared to the sector “communication and marketing” give very different answers regarding their “proximity” to different cultures. From the radar diagram we can readily see that communication students feel closed to all cultures, and in particular they feel much closer to the European, Anglo-Saxon and French culture.
In another studies he compared the attitude of Europeans (in yellow color) and Moroccan (in gray color) students: he found that liberty of expression is more relevant for Europeans, and that politics is not relevant for any of the two cultural groups, and even less for the Europeans.
In addition the will for self-realization (or self fulfilment) is much stronger for Europeans than for Moroccans.
In conclusion, the depth and breadth of Prof. Poglia research can be seen as a leading example for young researchers.
The visionary and impressively broad view of research of Professor Emeritus Poglia is certainly an inspiration for all of us.