Education in the Contemporary Society

The PhD programme in Education in Contemporary Society (ESC) is focused on researching, via multiple convergent disciplines and methods, the great educational challenges posed by the transformations taking place in our contemporary world. It is a higher education path designed to form researchers with expertise in professional development, educational, teaching, and learning processes, who are capable of interpreting these transformations and challenges and offering theoretically-, empirically-, and epistemologically grounded responses based on research.


Director: Prof. Francesca Antonacci
Deputy Director: Prof. Chiara Bove

[email protected] 

In the course of the three-year doctoral programme, students are required to conduct a major education, psychology, philosophy, or interdisciplinary research project.

The doctorate has a strong international focus: PhD candidates are required to study and/or carry out research abroad and to present their work at international conferences; co-tutoring and exchanges are offered at locations around the world, thanks to UNIMIB’s partnerships with a range of leading universities. Grants are available for PhD students from other European and non-European universities, with a view to ensuring lively debate and cultural exchange within the various cycles of the programme.

The excellence of the course offering is reflected both in its theoretical-epistemological depth and in the high level of methodological expertise for which it is known, with faculty teaching a wide variety of research methodologies: qualitative (narrative, ethnographic, interpretative, phenomenological, art-based, participatory, etc.), quantitative, mixed-methods, experimental.

The University’s cooperation agreements with social services, schools, and educational services, as well as public and private institutions and businesses, facilitate applied research, thus enhancing the impact of candidates’ research outcomes at the societal level. Industry and executive internships are also offered, in partnership with companies, social institutions, services, and schools, in Italy and internationally.

The educational, psychological, philosophical, and interdisciplinary research projects carried out in fulfilment of the requirements of the PhD course concern the great educational challenges facing contemporary society, which arise from emergent phenomena including:

  • interculturality and migration;
  • the use of new digital technologies and new media;
  • sustainability, environmental, and ecological education;
  • new approaches of cultural heritage valorization;
  • changes in the domains of education and teaching/learning;
  • the fight against educational poverty and socio-cultural inequalities;
  • the transformation of work and occupational settings;
  • radicalization, violence, and fundamentalism;
  • emergent and latent forms of exclusion, social injustice, educational poverty;
  • lifelong, lifewide, and lifedeep learning;
  • access to professional development and employment opportunities;
  • recognition of informal competences and learning;
  • communication as a source of individual and collective well-being;
  • efforts to promote the holistic development of the person.

These form a set of dynamically evolving challenges that may only be effectively tackled in light of the most recent research findings.

In addition to pursuing traditional academic careers, the graduates of the PhD programme boast highly specialized training that makes them eligible for employment in public and private organizations (schools, health services, training and research institutions, social enterprises, international cooperation agencies, socio-educational services, etc.) where research is drawn on to enhance innovation, quality assessment, and professional development, educational, teaching-learning, guidance, social, and care processes.

The specific theoretical and methodological competences acquired during the programme – including the ability to collect, analyse, organize, and interpret complex data, and experience working in international and intersectoral settings – equip a Doctor in Education to work in applied research, consultancy services, or the management of educational processes, and to take responsibility for the design, writing up, monitoring, and evaluating of projects, especially with a view to winning research funding.

Expertise in these areas is required, for example, in:

  • the design, evaluation, and supervision of educational processes in general;
  • the orientation and job training in public and private companies, in public administration and in social services and enterprises implementing innovative projects at national and international level;
  • the coordination of socio-educational services and projects, on behalf of public and private educational, professional development, and research institutions;
  • the design of training and educational proposals for cultural and artistic organisations, services and enterprises to enhance the cultural heritage;
  • the design of educational, professional development, and teaching/learning programmes in education services and schools for children, adolescents, adults, and elders;
  • the design of online environments and digital learning programmes;
  • the design of indoor and outdoor environments for the implementations of training and educational processes
  • the design of serious games, interactive virtual simulations, and technological applications for communications, training, and learning.
Antonacci Francesca University of Milano-Bicocca  
Barone Pierangelo University of Milano-Bicocca  
Biffi Elisabetta University of Milano-Bicocca  
Bove Chiara Maria University of Milano-Bicocca  
Datteri Edoardo University of Milano-Bicocca  
Ferri Paolo Maria University of Milano-Bicocca  
Formenti Laura University of Milano-Bicocca  
Grazzani Ilaria University of Milano-Bicocca  
Guerra Monica University of Milano-Bicocca  
Mangiatordi Andrea University of Milano-Bicocca  
Mantovani Fabrizia University of Milano-Bicocca  
Nigris Elisabetta University of Milano-Bicocca  
Ornaghi Veronica Maria University of Milano-Bicocca  
Palmieri Cristina University of Milano-Bicocca  
Pastori Giulia Gabriella Elena University of Milano-Bicocca  
Pepe Alessandro University of Milano-Bicocca  
Pippa Stefano University of Milano-Bicocca  
Riva Maria Grazia University of Milano-Bicocca  
Seveso Gabriella University of Milano-Bicocca  
Tramma Sergio University of Milano-Bicocca  
Ulivieri Stiozzi Ridolfi Stefania University of Milano-Bicocca  
Vergani Mario University of Milano-Bicocca  
Veronese Guido University of Milano-Bicocca  
Zecca Luisa University of Milano-Bicocca  
Zuccoli Franca Giuliana University of Milano-Bicocca  
Anguera Argilaga Maria Teresa Universidad de Barcelona, ESP  
Cefai Carmel University of Malta, MT  
Finnegan Fergal National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM), IE  
Fook Janis Leeds Trinity University, UK  
Kagee Ashraf Stellenbosch University, ZA  
Rieffe Carolien Leiden University, NL  
Sahlfeld Wolfgang Supsi Lugano, CH  
Sousa Cindy Bryn Mawr College, USA  
Wandenbroeck Michel University of Gent, BE  
Zannini Lucia Università degli Studi di Milano, ITA  


Candidates for the PhD in Education in Contemporary Society (ESC) must conduct a research project, under the guidance of a member of academic staff (tutor) and possibly one or more supervisors, who are sometimes international, who ensure the quality of the project and guide the students to developing their own scientific identity, introducing them into a research group and a scientific community that is in keeping with their interests.

To foster the development of the multiple and complex skills required by the researcher of today, students are offered a programme that is broken down into subject-specific courses, seminars, cross-cutting courses offered by the PhD school, seminars, monitoring meetings, and mid-year and end-of-year evaluation sessions for each year of the course.

In addition to attending the course modules, doctoral students are required to actively participate in the Department’s scientific, cultural, and teaching activities, hold regular meetings with their tutor / supervisor and the members of the academic board, and contribute to the periodic assessments of the quality and progress of their research project.

The Doctorate in Education in Contemporary Society offers the following subject-specific courses:

  1. Education Module (seminars on the different branches of educational science and educational research settings);
  2. Psychology Module (seminars on the different branches of psychology and psychological research settings);
  3. Education-Methods Module (Laboratory in the Epistemology of Education and Educational Research Methodologies);
  4. Psychology-Methods Module (Laboratory in Psychological Research Methodologies).

Attendance at the subject-specific modules in the candidate’s teaching plan is obligatory.
It is also compulsory to attend the cross-cutting courses offered by the PhD School, as indicated in the teaching plan.
The doctorate is bilingual: Italian and English. Modules are delivered in either Italian or English.

All the educational activities offered as part of the PhD in Education in Contemporary Society are available on e-learning platform:

by Scuola di dottorato, last updated on 27/01/2022