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ISA Medal for Science 2015 to Prof. Robert Putnam

ISA Medal for Science to Prof. Robert Putnam, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA

Oct 14, 2015 from 04:00 PM to 06:00 PM

Where Sala dell’VIII Centenario, via Zamboni 33, Bologna

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The Academic Board of the Institute of Advanced Studies at The University of Bologna has granted Prof. Robert Putnam with the ISA Medal for Science 2015, based on the proposal from a multidisciplinary group of Unibo scholars composed of Prof. Angelo Stefanini from the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences and of other colleagues from several Unibo Departments.

More than twenty years ago Prof. Putnam published his famous study Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, (La Tradizione Civica nelle Regioni Italiane, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1993), analysing the causes of the different performance of the administrations in the Italian Regions.

Prof. Putnam has assigned to the concept of social capital a collective nature, connected to the characteristics of social life – networks, rules, faith – enabling the participants to affectively act to pursue common aims.

Thanks to his studies Prof. Putnam has contributed, first of all, to increase the interest in the idea of social capital within different disciplines (sociology, psychology, political sciences, economics, management) and by the national and international public. In the sanitary field, for example, it has been demonstrated how the social capital represents an important protective factor for the health of the community.

Nowadays the results of Putnam’s research on Italian regions maintain their validity.

The social impact of Putnam’s work is mainly in the demonstration that the relations between public institutions, faith of local communities and social activism can generate the quality, sustainability and politics legitimation that territories, in their main fields of action (economy, health, social, culture, education, environment) can express.

In particular Putnam has enhanced how the city of Bologna and the emiliano-romagnolo territory are an international point of reference for the participated democracy and how the activism of Emilia-Romagna people is a significant resource of social capital.


The mission of the Institute of Advanced Studies is to support the development of interdisciplinary research at the University of Bologna by facilitating visits from distinguished scholars from abroad.

The ISA Medal for Science is the highest honour awarded by the Institute to distinguished scholars for scientific excellence and international acclaim and has been granted every year since 2006.

The ISA Medal is awarded by the Rector of the University of Bologna and by the Director of ISA to individuals or groups for their contribution to knowledge in science and technology as well as in human, social and behavioural sciences. Award winners are selected annually by the board of ISA Resident Fellows from proposals made by professors and researchers of the University of Bologna. The complete list of scholars who have received the Medal is published on the Institute web site at