The mission of the Center for Civic Studies (Laboratorio di Studi Civili) is to apply the methods and techniques of communication to the themes of civic education, combining scientific research and teaching activities.
Social conscience is essential for the proper functioning of public institutions, the quality of political life and the healthy development of business and financial activities. The importance of civic education is self-evident in Switzerland, due to its long and unique tradition of self-government. Since Swiss citizens play a lead role in the decision making processes, they are constantly required, both at the federal and local level, to take part in the public life of the community and to demonstrate their knowledge of the institutions and of the political debate. Despite its importance, however, civic education is a largely unexplored field of research. In particular, political communication studies lack scientific contributions that combine the theoretical and historical aspects of the issue with the practical expertise.
It takes a combination of reason, passions and experiences to be good citizens. Citizens should, first of all, be apprised of the forms of government, the functioning of institutions, the claims of political theories and parties, the Constitution and the history of their country. In the second place, citizens should be able to practice moral reasoning, think about ethical issues, distinguish between justice and injustice, and justify moral choices. We must also consider the value of instrumental reason, that kind of reason that calculates the costs and benefits ratio of the action. The person who relies only on this latter kind of reason can not cover the whole path that leads to a conscious citizenship. Critical, moral and instrumental reasons have to work together. How is this possible? Why should a person make this step forward? How can education help this process? Answering these questions is the primary task of civic education, a task that the Center for Civic Studies aims to accomplish.
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