School of Transnational Governance

Hannah Arendt to inspire STG students

As one of the most influential public intellectuals and political thinkers of the 20th century, Arendt was chosen as the patron of the second cohort of STG master’s students.

02/09/2021 | News

With the start of the academic year 2021-2022, the School of Transnational Governance’s master’s programme goes into the second round. From beginning of September, 41 new students will join the STG in its new headquarters, Palazzo Buontalenti, in the city centre of Florence.

The Master of Arts in Transnational Governance (MTnG) is designed to equip the leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge and skills needed to tackle cross-border issues and enable them to break through traditional perspectives to understand and design sustainable and effective transnational solutions. Each cohort is assigned a patron to provide inspiration and orientation for the students' professional and personal development.

After Economics Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, selected to accompany the journey of the first cohort, Hannah Arendt was chosen for the new group of students.
Arendt, born a German Jew in 1906, was an unorthodox political thinker who was trained as a philosopher by Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers. She emigrated to Paris in 1933, where she worked for Jewish social organisations that brought Jewish emigrant children and young people to safety. After the German occupation of France, she escaped to the United States. With the publication of her work on totalitarian rule in 1951, she became one of the most influential public intellectuals and political thinkers of the 20th century. Recently, the emergence of an increasingly authoritarian style of government and phenomena such as fake news have led to a wave of renewed interest in her writings.

Several elements of Arendt's life and intellectual contributions make her so pertinent to the DNA of the master's programme.

Prof Michael Bauer, Director of the master’s programme, said: “Hannah Arendt warned early on about the subversive effect of 'lies' and 'lying' in politics; concealing the truth is a hallmark of totalitarianism. The rise of fake news and the adherence to conspiracy theories even by democratic leaders would have alarmed her - and so it should us.”

Arendt’s idea of politics seeks to overcome an individualistic perspective and focuses on plurality. “It is about relationships and interaction between free individuals - and this makes her a pioneer for what we are trying to achieve at the STG, which is to find ways to overcome divisions and build consensus.”

Arendt’s thinking about politics puts communication at the centre. How power comes from citizens interacting with each other as equals, and that power is only legitimate if it is based on such discursive interaction. She also has a clear idea of the "vita activa", especially for intellectuals. In this respect, Arendt’s approach to our "human condition" entails trying to find the truth and influence public affairs in accordance with what we believe to be true and right - the only way to build a free society.

May her personality and political thinking provide inspiration and guidance to young aspiring leaders.

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