Social Sustainability

The World Commission on Environment and Development, headed by Gro Harlem Brundtland, defined sustainable development in 1987 as "a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs."
Niccolò Cusano University has always taken care to innovate and constantly update its facilities, and has created its own in-house model of sustainability, with emphasis on two important issues:

Environmental Sustainability, aimed at promoting environment-friendly behaviour by making students and staff aware of ‘good practices’ - activities, projects and study initiatives whose objective is the reduction of the impact of human actions on the ecosystem, and Social sustainability, aimed at:

  • promoting medical and scientific research to find cures for rare diseases and undertaking healthcare support initiatives;
  • creating teaching facilities to guide students during their university career and providing opportunities for their professional and cultural growth;
  • creating projects and initiatives for our students and staff that can improve the quality of their lives by encouraging a healthier lifestyle;
  • taking part in international programmes of support for the disadvantaged;
  • cooperating with the Communità di Sant’Egidio in giving assistance to the less fortunate.

Download Social Sustainability Report

The Niccolò Cusano University foundation for scientific and medical research
The aims of the Niccolò Cusano University Foundation are to promote medical and scientific research projects focused on the diagnosis and cure of particular rare diseases. The Foundation is also active in the dissemination of scientific knowledge intended to make the results and progress of such research available to all.
The main research activities of the Foundation are:

  • Research on Long Q-T Syndrome
  • Support for the Airett project (Italian Association for Rett Syndrome)

Research on Long Q-T Syndrome
Since July 2012 The Foundation for Scientific and Medical Research of Niccolò Cusano University has supported research into Long Q-T syndrome at Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome. This syndrome is a genetic arrhythmic heart dysfunction which in the majority of patients manifests itself in a lengthening of the Q-T interval (ventricular re-polarisation) on an electrocardiogram, which can lead to arrhythmic states that are potentially life-threatening. The syndrome is of genetic origin; so far a total of fourteen genes have been identified as contributing to the disorder. Over the next three years, the aim of researchers is to modify the genes responsible for LQTS and thus provide a cure for the disease.

Progress made
With the backing of the Foundation, a diagnostic reference Centre has been set up at the Palidoro branch of the Bambino Gesù Hospital for the treatment of children affected by LQTS. Each patient arriving at the centre who has been diagnosed with possible LQTS is entered into the programme, which has three distinct stages:

Results obtained to date (2014)
The number of patients undergoing treatment at the LQTS diagnostic centre since the start of the research programme is 250. The genetic screening has been carried out on a total of 204 subjects, of whom 120 are patients and 84 are family members. Results show gene alteration in 59 patients tested. Improved knowledge on the part of the researchers in our centre has allowed them to identify effective mutation in 85% of the patients diagnosed with possible LQTS gene mutation.

Future research
Since 2014 we have been working on:

  • the classification by function of the identified mutations, in order to understand their electro-physiological effects;
  • the study of the RNA of patients with genetic mutations that have already been classified by function;
  • the creation of induced pluripotent stem cells derived from patients with LQTS mutations, which give rise to mutated LQTS genes which can be subsequently studied as to function;
  • the creation of a transgenic animal for functional research and subsequent gene therapy.

Support for the Airett project (Italian Association for Rett Syndrome)
Rett Syndrome is a rare disease which is therapeutically highly complex, involving early arrested development associated with a series of pathologies (epilepsy, hyperventilation, nutritional deficit and osteoporosis). The disease causes significant  disturbances in the ability to perform motor functions which become aggravated over time, such as a progressive deterioration of muscle tone, cognitive disability, emotional  difficulties and a serious impairment in verbal communication. The Foundation for Scientific and Medical Research of Niccolò Cusano University is highly responsive to the problems of rare diseases, and in 2011 financed a project of the Italian Association for Rett Syndrome (Airett) to take responsibility for treatment of the cognitive and motor disturbances of Rett syndrome. Thanks to this initiative, a rehabilitation centre was set up which overcame the previous lack of  suitable structures and of specialist personnel, which for years had obliged families to go abroad in their search for effective treatment. The funds were allocated for a research project at the Tor Vergata Hospital in Rome whose aims are to find answers that can improve performance and prevent or delay motor function deterioration.

An ambulance for the White Cross
An ambulance for the White Cross service of the Medical Assistance and Civil Defence Volunteers, in Monserrato, in the province of Cagliari, Sardinia.
In 2011the Niccolò Cusano University Foundation allocated part of its funds to the White Cross service of the Medical Assistance and Civil Defence Volunteers, in Monserrato, in the province of Cagliari, for the purchase of an ambulance. The ambulance, which will provide its services to the entire territory of Monserrato, is equipped with all the latest medical apparatus, including a DAE, a semi-automatic defibrillator for emergency resuscitation.

Radio Cusano Campus, the radio that gives information on health, medicine and well-being
Looking after our health is often something we neglect or underrate because we do not have access to useful information. For this reason Cusano University aims to make you more aware of how to look after yourself on a daily basis, through our university radio: RADIO CUSANO CAMPUS. The radio programme Genetics Today, for example, is on the air every day, and aims at making medical topics more accessible, with doctors and medical experts bringing our listeners up to date with the latest innovations in medicine and the newest forms of therapy available. Along the same lines, we discuss medicines made in Italy, explaining their origin, the types of testing that they are subjected to before being put on the market, their active ingredients and possible side effects. There are a great many topics on the issue of health and special attention is given to diet and nutrition. Radio Cusano Campus has also a programme dedicated to the family, entitled Becoming Parents, which focuses on problems which parents, in their role as educators, have to face. Thanks to the help of educational psychologists, the programme attempts to provide useful advice for parents during their children’s educational development. Radio Cusano Campus is at FM 89.100 - www.

The football team of scientific research
The football team of scientific Research The Niccolò Cusano University is the first Italian university which bought a football team: the Unicusano- Fondi football team (the team of the Italian country of Lazio) . After winning the Serie D Italian Cup and the play-off with Fondi, and after achieving important results in the Lega Pro, Niccolò Cusano University’s venture into the world of sport takes a new step forward: the town of Terni and its renowned football team Ternana are about embark upon a new exciting season in Serie B. The football team joins forces with scientific Research, pressing into service the Italian passion for football to sponsor and champion the important work being carried out by Italian researchers and all those battling daily with voluntary work against disease. Bearing this goal in mind, University started a partnership with one of the most popular sport newspapers in Italy, Il Corriere dello Sport, which daily dedicates a page to the sport and health Research project of the University. This page deals with the sport challenges of the Unicusano-Ternana team as well as the health Research and experiences of families and “The Unicusano Ternana Football is the official team of Scientific Research.” associations that fight against diseases. Our collaboration with Il Corriere dello Sport allows us to tell all kinds of untold stories about both medical advances and also the world of sport and disability. With a great town like Terni, with the great devotion of the Ternana fans and the commitment of Unicusano, the next season looks set to be an exciting and impressive one for sport, education and scientific Research.

Unicusano university scholarships Service
With a view to rewarding students who are more willing and committed to providing themselves with a university education, since 2014 to the present Niccolò Cusano University has  offered over 250 scholarship places to final-year high school students in Rome and its province. The scholarship students are exempt from paying fees for their entire university career, and follow a detailed, rigorous programme, the ‘Degree plus course’, in which attendance in lessons is obligatory and which includes daily English lessons. The university aims to introduce the students into a learning process of excellence which will allow them to graduate within the time limits of their chosen course of study, together with a respectable knowledge of the English language.

The Land of Fires: scholarships of solidarity
Unicusano university has decided to show solidarity with the parts of Italy that have been affected by the illegal burning of toxic waste (known as ‘the land of fires’) by offering thirty scholarships to school-leavers from the area. The awardees, apart from not paying any university fees, will also be able to stay for free in the student residence on campus, and avail themselves of all the teaching and recreational facilities of the university.

Internship and Placement Service
Unemployment figures in Italy are a cause for concern. According to an analysis carried out by the National Statistics Office (ISTAT) in 2014, there are 678,000 people unemployed in the age range 15-24, a figure which casts doubt and uncertainty on the future prospects of young people. To offset the difficulties involved in finding a job, Niccolò Cusano University offers its graduates and graduands the opportunity to enter the job market by availing themselves of training schemes and internships. The University Internship and Placement Service helps students to look for work by editing and updating their CVs and giving advice on how to effectively evaluate job offers. Students are therefore given assistance both during their university studies and afterwards, when they can acquire professional skills to add to their educational qualifications.

I have a dream…
More and more often, young people want to take on a challenge, try out their ideas and aspirations. In the musical field, often all they need is the right opportunity, along with a good dose of courage and a touch of foolishness, to achieve their ambition. Niccolò Cusano University is constantly in contact with young people and their artistic aspirations, and aims to offer them places where they can demonstrate their abilities and gain the acknowledgement and appreciation of experts in the field.

The UniMana Band Project
This is a musical project designed to give performing space and visibility to young musicians, sponsored by the University and the Campus radio station, Radio Manàmanà, with the collaboration of Faro Production. New aspiring musicians are given the opportunity to make their dreams a reality by performing live in the studios of Radio Manàmanà, 89.1 FM, and taking part in interviews with specialists in the world of radio.

The life style smile experimental project
Here at Niccolò Cusano University we have always been conscious of the connection between a correct diet and a person’s health in general, and we encourage our students and staff to adopt a healthy and balanced lifestyle by offering them a series of proposals. Life Style Smile is one of these initiatives, which aims at making people aware of the connection between personal habits, mental and physical well-being and job performance. The experimental stage was carried out by the research group headed by Prof. Francesco Peluso Cassese, professor of Methods and Teaching of Motor Skills at Niccolò Cusano University in Rome. The team created and evaluated a combined behavioural model of dietary and motor skill education aimed at improving the quality of life in the case of various categories of university employees. The study was carried out on a sample of 50 employees and to date showed a state of well-being in the work-place, with in some cases a lack of correct dietary habits, along with sparse physical exercise.

The stages of the project
The experiment, which involved a sizeable number of employees representative of all those working within the university, followed a series of stages, which are still in progress. During the first stage, each participant was asked to make a daily record of their eating habits and physical activities, so that their general state of health could be judged and their needs understood. In particular, this showed what foods the participants chose to eat and also how they made their choices. In the second stage, which is still in progress, the same group of participants are undergoing an appraisal of their physical activities, to see if there are any deficiencies affecting their well-being. In the third stage, the group will be informed of their results and invited to take part in seminars on campus, dealing with dietary sustainability and the advantages of following a healthy diet. A final stage at the end of the project will involve a re-appraisal of the participants, after a period of adjustment, to see if the advice has been followed and if changes have been made in their lifestyle. It will be important to discover whether the sample group perceives an improvement in their well-being, with all the benefits associated with social and personal sustainability.

First aid training – health and safety
At Niccolò Cusano University , we want to ensure the safety of all those present on campus, and for this reason we have initiated training schemes for all our staff in first-aid procedures, including the use of defibrillators if necessary. All members of staff have attended courses run by the Italian Red Cross and have been issued with the BLS-D certificate (Basic Life Support-Defibrillation) attesting to their competence in first aid and use of the defibrillator. The University has also three defibrillators on campus, which can help save lives in cases of emergency treatment.

Know what you are eating – our environment-friendly canteen
A healthy diet is the basis of a healthy lifestyle.
At Niccolò Cusano University, we are well aware of the importance of diet, both for a person’s physical and mental well-being and for the prevention of disease, and we have created an organic market-garden, at ‘zero kilometres’, inside the parkland surrounding the university campus. The produce is consumed by students and staff in the campus canteen; our vegetables are thus always fresh and in season and have no negative impact on the environment, since they are grown organically; this does not alter their nutritional benefits, which are essential for a healthy diet rich in anti-oxidants.

The importance of exercise – our gymnasium
"A person’s well-being also depends on physical activities and a healthy lifestyle"
A person’s well-being also depends on physical activities and a healthy lifestyle. At Niccolò Cusano University, we are aware of the importance of physical exercise as well as mental exercise, and we provide students and staff with a place to do it – the gym, which is equipped with state-of-the-art machines and apparatus, and where you can practice and exercise according to your needs, abilities and the demands of work or study. The gym is open to all enrolled students and employees of the university.

Our university set in natural surroundings – the campus
Being able to study and work in comfortable surroundings is essential for the quality of life. So it is important to mix work and study with periods of relaxation. The main campus of Unicusano lies surrounded by 6 hectares of green parkland, making it a pleasant recreational environment for our students, but also a place to study, read or sunbathe as they wish; a ideal spot to meet up with classmates and friends.

Living-in at university – The 'Residenza'
Getting the most out of their university experience can be difficult for some students, especially those who live far from the main campus. Niccolò Cusano University has responded in a socially sustainable manner to this problem by giving students the possibility of staying overnight on campus in our in-house ‘Residenza’ with its more than 200 beds. Students can thus ‘live-in’ while they meet with their teachers, their learning consultants and their fellow-students, as well as attending lessons.

Virtuous transportation – the shuttle bus
The University has helped students and staff with their transport problems by providing a shuttle bus service between the campus and the nearest bus and underground stops. The shuttle bus service was created for the express purpose of encouraging the university population to use public transport instead of private cars, thus reducing costs and time spent on journeys. The shuttle bus makes over 22 runs per day at times convenient for all attending and working at the university.

For us at Niccolò Cusano University, social sustainability must reach beyond our local boundaries and be supported in developing countries where children’s rights are often neglected.
The University has decided to participate, along with Amref, in the creation of a Children’s Village near Nairobi in Kenya, this will be a new community centre with multiple facilities where children and teenagers can receive assistance, health care and better sanitary conditions. The Village  is seen as a positive alternative to a life of misery on the streets. The youngsters will be able to take part every day in educational and recreational activities such as music and dance, which are very important in giving them a sense of togetherness and context which otherwise would be lacking. Our university would in this way be reaching out to children whose lives are beset by poverty, violence and social exclusion. The Centre, by providing them with sports and other activities, gives them a chance of a better future.

"Contributing to the support of those living in reduced circumstances".
The Sant’Egidio Community was founded in Rome in the late 1970’s to give a helping hand to the disadvantaged. Its canteen system was first developed in Rome and is now flourishing in several other countries. The Community volunteers serve daily hot meals to whoever is in need, and create a friendly and stress-free environment for them.
Niccolò Cusano University appreciates the importance of this service, and cooperates with the Sant’Egidio Community by donating each month more than 400 three-course meals and around 2000 filled rolls. In this way we contribute to the support of those living in reduced circumstances.