Saluti da Prato

Dr Cecilia Hewlett
Dr Cecilia Hewlett

Report Amanda Place

The Monash University Prato Centre is celebrating 14 years of education and collaboration in its idyllic Italian locale. The vision driving the Centre delivers a profound learning experience – and Monash alumni are invited to become involved.

Surrounded by the cultural, intellectual and industrial wealth of Europe, the Prato Centre in Tuscany has welcomed 15,000 visitors across its history to study international programs, build research collaborations, or participate in conferences and events.

While students experience the joy of studying in Italy in areas including archaeology, jazz, law, management and education, they also build life-long connections with universities, governments, industry and cultural organisations.

“The Centre has a student population of 700 each year and an annual calendar of more than 35 research workshops and conferences.Each group brings new stimuli and new possibilities to be explored,” director, Dr Cecilia Hewlett said.

A highlight for Dr Hewlett in her three years at the helm of the Centre has been the impact of a new program providing teaching placements for students from the Faculty of Education.

“The impact on the students and the schools has been dramatic – with students reflecting on how much their teaching practice has developed. Local students have also had their horizons opened through contact with student teachers from the other side of the world.”

But the experience at Prato is not limited to Monash students. Dr Hewlett believes alumni could benefit by visiting the centre when travelling in Europe, supporting internships or scholarships, or enrolling in its executive short courses.

“The Centre has its own alumni community of more than 3500 graduates who have undertaken study programs in Prato, but we want to reach out to a wider alumni community through our new executive short courses.

“European-based alumni can also provide internship opportunities for our students. One of our expat Monash law graduates practising in Rome does just this and also gives guest talks during our law program, sharing her industry and business links.”

Dr Hewlett said it was a great privilege to build relationships with people from all over the world as well as provide a focal point for the University’s research and education in Europe.

“Prato is extremely well connected and serviced in terms of location and at the same time the city’s comparatively intimate size provides alumni, students and visitors with a genuine experience of Italy.”