Salomone Comments on Italian Court Decision

Professor Rosemary Salomone’s commentary, “Linguistic Battle Sparks Revolt Against Globalisation,” in the March 10th edition of University World News, examines the Italian Constitutional Court’s recent decision in a case brought by professors at Milan’s prestigious Polytechnic Institute challenging the university’s plan to offer all graduate programs in English.

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Rosemary Salomone

In a well-reasoned opinion affirming rights to free speech and equality and the primacy of the Italian language, the Court upheld a 2010 law permitting university courses in a foreign language to promote international careers while, at the same time, the Court set constitutional limits on how universities might apply the law. The Court noted that universities cannot offer entire programs in another language unless they offer parallel programs in Italian. But they can offer individual course units entirely in other languages provided they do not marginalize Italian. It now rests with the Consiglio di Stato, the national administrative court in Rome, to apply these directives to the Polytechnic plan. The prospect of offering parallel programs in English and Italian, as done in some Nordic countries, could prove financially unfeasible as the university argued when the administrative court raised that possibility in 2014. It remains to be seen whether the decision’s legal weight, though grounded in Italian law, will give momentum to a wider backlash against English and globalization eroding national identities and implicating linguistic justice, questions that Professor Salomone explores in depth in her current book project to be published by Oxford University Press. The full commentary can be found here.

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