Empowering Imagination, Idea League Summer School at Politecnico di Milano

A week of in-depth study on the topic of imagination

“Empowering Imagination”, the Idea League Summer School 2018 organised by Politecnico di Milano, was recently held (3-7 september). IDEA League is a strategic alliance between five European universities of primary importance that aims to reinforce the links between technology, science and society. Its participants are Politecnico di Milano, ETH of Zurich, TU of Delft, RWTH of Aachen, and Chalmers University of Technology of Göteborg.

Each year, the IDEA League partners organise a Summer School for an in-depth treatment of current research topics to thereby grant students the possibility of developing their academic knowledge, of an interdisciplinary nature as well, and their soft skills.

“Empowering Imagination” has tackled the issue of imagination, which is present in Western philosophy since its genesis and is still essential in contemporary philosophical research. The notion of imagination entails a specific type of mental representation that is different from perception, memory and belief. To imagine means to model mental objects that are of huge help to us: first of all to understand ourselves and the other human beings, and furthermore to design bot hour actions and the objects we are working on, gifting us a powerful guide in the domain of the possible, as a kind of bridge between the present and the future we aspire to.

The aim of the programme was to recognise imagination as one of the most promising tools at our disposal when we think of how to behave and interact with the objects we create within the scientific, engineering, architectural and design context. The programme provided PhD students with some essential theoretical instruments (especially on aesthetic imagination, moral imagination and scientific modelling) and the possibility of deploying their imagination through exercises that aim at improving the ability to use it.

Ester Bernadò, certified coach with a solid teaching and research background, guided the students throughout the week. There were interventions from Professors Aaron Meskin (University of Leeds), Margherita Arcangeli (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin), and Arnon Levy (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). The coordinators were Simona Chiodo from the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies and Viola Schiaffonati from the Department of Electronics, Information and Bioengineering.