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Sophia's Departments

Departments are the Institute’s organisational units. Each department coordinates related disciplines from across our degree programmes according to their methods and objectives, in order to promote research, teaching and training, as well as the organisation of open events and initiatives.

Social and Political Sciences

The Social and Political Sciences Department gathers lecturers and researchers in a variety of disciplines with the aim of developing research and teaching in these fields. The Department is committed to developing relations with social and political actors and organisations worldwide whose work is inspired by the same ideals as those of the Sophia University Institute.

The Department encourages its lectures and researchers to take part in interdisciplinary and international research projects involving Master’s students and PhD candidates as well.


Main teaching and research areas

Anthropology, ethics of the person and ethics in society
This area combines studies in cultural anthropology, general ethics, social ethics and critical analysis of ideologies. It helps develop critical thinking in order to encourage a coherent engagement in public affairs, and looks at issues related to deontological codes in the public sector.

Communication for social change and political communication
Moving from a solid basis of communication anthropology and theory, research in this area develops the tools for intercultural dialogue and social and political communication. Specific research topics include public opinion formation, the dynamics of social networks and alternative communication.

Democracy and participation
Moving from the study of democratisation processes, we look at the most recent developments in representative, participatory and deliberative democracy, with a particular focus on public policy-making and participatory planning, including through workshops with civil servants, members of parliament and political leaders from a variety of countries.

Law of international institutions and comparative law
This research area aims to develop the capacity to analyse and understand the evolution of the current legal framework. This is done by studying the norms of international law and the rules of national legal systems through a comparative approach and the analysis of relevant case-studies.

Foundations of Politics
This area is concerned with the study of political theory through the ages, from the origins, when narrations were centred around symbolic communication, to contemporary political philosophy and theory. A particular focus is on the most recent studies on the principle of fraternity and other relational paradigms in politics.

International politics
This area combines the study of the political theory of the international community and the study of the current features of international relations, and provides a critical evaluation of the main theoretical approaches. Research on regional and continental integration processes and other key issues in the field of global studies is carried out through case-study analysis and the elaboration of specific projects.

Sociological research
This area provides a specialised space for in-depth sociological and anthropological study on the social bond, gift and relational goods, through tools such as Social Network Analysis.
One of our main areas of interest, both in teaching and in research, is the issue of poverty and development. Sociology of religions, both in the public and private sphere, is another core subject, with a specific focus on its role in the history of charisms and church movements.

History of political thought and institutions
This area is concerned with the study of political ideas, cultures and traditions, each with its own originality and specificities, in constant interaction with their respective historical contexts. Our work, both in teaching and in research, seeks to establish a dialogue between the theoretical core of the ideas expressed by thinkers and doctrines over the ages, and the relationship those thinkers and doctrines had with the society and institutions of their time.

Some remarkable moments


in collaboration with Mppu and with Ruef

  • 2011 Seminar: ‘Authority, power, sovereignty: democracy’s questions’
  • 2012 Seminar: ‘Fraternity and participation in the transformation process of democracies: political, legal and social perspectives’.
  • 2013 International Seminar: ‘Fraternity as a relational principle in law and politics’



  • Seminar organised in collaboration with the Faculty of Sociology of Trent University (Italy), Trent, 11th December 2011: ‘Chiara Lubich and her legacy in the social sciences. Socio-logical stimuli from Trentino’.

The proceedings of the seminar were published on the ‘Sophia’ Journal, V (2003,1) pages 5-177.

  • Seminar organised in collaboration with the Department of Sociology and Social Research of Trent University (Italy), Trent, 12th-13th December 2014: ‘The Social Relation’.

The proceedings of the seminar are awaiting publication in English.

  • Presentation of the book: ‘L’amore al tempo della globalizzazione. Verso un nuovo concetto sociologico (Love in the time of globalisation. Towards a new sociological concept)’, Città Nuova, Rome 2015, 306 pages, in collaboration with the Social-One international research group. Main hall of the Sophia University Institute, 19th May 2016.
  • Presentation of the book: ‘La nascita dei Focolari. Storia e sociologia di un carisma 1943 – 1965 (The birth of the Focolare. History and sociology of a charisma)’, Per-corsi di Sophia Series, Città Nuova, Rome 2017, 632 pages. 2017 LoppianoLab Meeting, main hall of the Sophia University Institute, 1st October 2017.