The World Challenges Programme (WCP)

WCP - World Challenges Program

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
– Albert Einstein


The WCP at Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) aligns education, research, and engagement agendas with key global development issues. We access new thinking to develop different ways to approach these challenges and therefore create opportunities for knowledge transfer between practitioners, academics, students, and the public through a variety of actions.

World Challenges are “wicked problems” – messy, ambiguous issues with no clear solution. Wicked problems involve food waste, biodiversity, ecology, climate change, migration, social inclusion and gender equality.

The theme of world challenges is an accelerator for programs within the university and outreach to the community and the territory.

The WCP includes:

  • Integrated Educational programs
  • Community Engagement initiatives (in progress)
  • Research



The WCP is managed by an executive committee with representatives from the collection of emerging WCP initiatives and supported by the Rectorate.

Prof. Michael Gibbert

Academic Director of WCP Integrated Education

Michael Gibbert is a Professor of Marketing at USI’s Institute of Marketing and Communication Management (IMCA). He earned his PhD from the University of St. Gallen, holds an MSc from the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) and did his post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University. He also worked as a research assistant at INSEAD, Fontainebleau and as associate professor at Bocconi University (2003-2010) in Milan and is the author or co-author of numerous journal articles and books on innovation, strategic marketing, organizational theory and research methodology.

Personal page and contact

Monika Maślikowska

Ph.D. Student

Monika Maślikowska is a PhD student at the Institute of Marketing and Communication Management (IMCA) at USI. She holds a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship and is committed to teaching, research and academic activities, including the management of ICE and TWC within the WCP. She has a Master’s in Management, a Bachelor’s in Business Management and Engineering (Architecture and Urban Planning) from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology in Poland. She has also worked for global organizations in Luxembourg and studied in Australia, Italy and Spain.

Personal page and contact

Lisa Märcz

Teaching Assistant

Lisa Märcz is a Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Communication Sciences, Institute of Marketing and Communication Management (IMCA) at USI. She is committed to the guidance and coordination of students in BA Marketing and MA Critical Consumer Behavior, supervised by Prof. Michael Gibbert. As a new coordination member of the WCP World Challenges Program, she is dedicated to the Master elective course Tackling World Challenges (TWC) and the Bachelor specialization of Intercultural Communication and Economics (ICE).

Her research focuses on human-nonhuman relations, wildlife management, animal agency, interdisciplinary science, and sustainability. She studied biosciences, cultural anthropology and American studies in Germany (Rostock and Mainz) and Switzerland (Zurich and Berne), and published her BA thesis at the University of Mainz to "Feral children: Questioning the human-animal boundary from an anthropological perspective". After her MA thesis "In the Eyes of the Other: What Facebook Users reveal about Human-Wolf Relations", current projects include, inter alia, human-wolf relations in Switzerland and Northern Italy, and human-nonhuman relations of consumerism.

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Dr. Stefano Giacomelli

Post Doctoral Researcher

Stefano Giacomelli holds a Ph.D. in Communication Sciences from USI (‘summa cum laude’), and a Master of Law from Catholic University, in Milan, Italy (103/110).

Stefano research examines the connection between humans and nature from an interdisciplinary perspective, at the interface of the social and natural sciences. His current research interests are Environmental science, Environmental policy and governance, Rural studies. In his research, he mainly uses qualitative methodologies, especially case-study, ethnography and comparative approaches.

Personal page and contact


Roberto Manzi

Business Development Manager

Roberto Manzi has an established and recognised expertise in startup programs with a high innovative content. His job is to translate research programs into a business, and generate a competitive business through innovation and research. His humanistic education (he studied Philosophy and Theology, and currently is a researcher in Communication Sciences), combined with specialized skills acquired in various professional experiences allow him to have an open mind and a strategic vision in the business. He has experience both in the industrial, commercial and service industries; he works in top management of Multinational Corporations, Family Companies, start-ups, and sits on different boards of directors.

Bareerah Hafeez Hoorani

Ph.D. Student

Bareerah Hafeez Hoorani is a PhD student at the Institute of Marketing and Communication Management at USI. She completed her MSc in Economics with a specialization in econometrics at the University of Geneva. Her current research interests revolve around research methods, with special focus on the role of case selection, the usage of time , and the process of theorizing in case study research. In the past, she has also worked with ‘Teach for Pakistan’ (NGO) in an effort of tackling educational inequality. 

Expand All

  • Integrated Education

    We believe that the attitudes and skills that you learn in your early twenties will be formative for your later years.

    Our aim is to develop well-rounded leaders for tomorrow who know how to act responsibly and keep an eye on global sustainability when making decisions locally.

    We offer innovative initiatives that range from university courses and teacher training workshops, to primary through high school levels. We emphasize learning in the classroom, through experiences, by discovery, and from each other. This broad target is united in a focus on investigating world challenges.


    Our first challenge 2017-2020: Food - Responsible Consumption and Production

    The first wicked problem we will address falls within goal 12 of the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs, Responsible Consumption and Production, in particular, Food Waste. The challenge is to reduce food losses along the supply chain from production and distribution through to the consumer.


    Happening now

    • Master’s Level Course

    The elective course, Tackling World Challenges, brings together master’s and PhD students from USI, Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden and Hanken School of Economics in Finland to work in interdisciplinary and culturally diverse teams on a real-life "wicked problem" in cooperation with an organization.

    The course consists of lectures, field trip, group work, knowledge sharing, expert interviews, company collaboration, and high level presentations. There will be a kick-off meeting at the beginning of the course where students from USI will personally meet students from the other university partners at Stockholm. In the remaining seminars and lectures, students in the different schools will meet virtually and groups are expected to coordinate and connect using the available digital platform.

    The course brings together 36 students (12 per University) and is structured into six interdisciplinary teams (e.g. ethics/CSR, management, communications) of six students (two per university).

    Applications for Spring 2020 are open.

    Places are limited so apply now to reserve your place. Course participants receive a scholarship (travel costs). To apply, send a copy of English language and other certificates you may have and a motivation piece to

    Application deadline is 29 November 2019.


    • Bachelor’s Concentration

    The Intercultural Communication and Economics (ICE) specialization is an English language specialization offered to third year Bachelor’s students in USI’s faculties of Economics and Communication in cooperation with the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland. ICE students from USI spend their fifth semester, from September to December, at Hanken, and exchange students from Hanken will be at USI in their sixth semester, from February to June. ICE students will develop analytical focus, hone their judgement skills, their intercultural awareness, and empathy, relative to the great challenges and risks society faces today. 

    Applications are open.

    ICE participants receive a scholarship and a reduction in tuition. Places are limited so apply early to reserve your place. To apply, send your complete internal application form, a copy of English language and other certificates you may have and a motivation piece to

    Application deadline is 31 January 2020.

  • Turn ideas into action

    An alliance of engaged partners support WCP and its initiatives. World Challenges affect everyone and new approaches are needed to find solutions. We welcome contributions and participation at all levels and from all areas.

    It’s easy to help - make a donation. Volunteer some time. Take part in our programs in the community, at the university or for schools. We provide opportunities for individuals, families and organizations to make a difference in the lives of our youth.

    Write to us for information on how to get involved:


    • WCP Partnership

    Donations or non-financial contributions provide support for projects that advance our mission.


    • Education Partnership

    Excellence Scholarship - Your contribution provides travel and tuition support for students to participate in the WCP Master’s elective course.


    • Educational Programming

    Resources contributed to the educational programming fund go towards developing new courses, extending successful projects, and exploring new teaching approaches at all educational levels.


    • Research Fellowship

    A contribution to this fund supports a PhD student to conduct research on World Challenge topics. Candidates submit proposals for research and are selected on a competitive basis for a fellowship that covers full tuition and a stipend for living expenses.

  • Outreach

    Academic Articles

    Academic Conferences

    • Maślikowska, M. and Gibbert, M. (2019). Two Levels of ‘Fit’ between Working Spaces and Organizational Culture: A Comparative Case Study. European Academy of Management conference, 1781.
    • Giacomelli, S., Gibbert, M., Viganò, R. (2017). Approaches to Preventing Illegal Releases of Boars in the Wild. The Wildlife Society Conference. Albuquerque, the U.S.
    • Hare, D., Giacomelli, S., Gibbert, M., Blossey, B. (2017). Public Trust Thinking: Comparing Public Ownership of Wildlife in Italy and the United States. The Wildlife Society Conference. Albuquerque, the U.S. Poster presentation.
    • Giacomelli, S., Gibbert, M., Viganò, R. (2017). Challenges in wild boar management: balancing the demands of hunters and the public. Academy of Management (AoM), Organizations and the Natural Environment Division. Atlanta, the U.S.
    • Giacomelli, S. (2017). Quality Certifications vs. Consumer’s Reviews in Online Food Shopping. American Marketing Association Conference (AMA), winter session. Orlando, the U.S. Poster presentation.

    Academic Workshops

    • Gibbert, M., Giacomelli, S., Viganò R. (2018). A Tale of Two Boars: Ungulate Management in Italy and Germany. Re-negotiating “Wilderness” in More-than-human Worlds. CEFRES: French Research Center in Humanities and Social Sciences. Prague, Czech Republic.
    • Giacomelli, S., Gibbert M., (2018). Men and Women playing gender during hunting in the Alps. Winter School LabEx ITEM. Bellinzona, Switzerland.
    • Giacomelli, S., Gibbert, M., Viganò, R. (2018). Illegal Releases of Wild Boar in the Alps: Motivations and Solutions. Winter School LabEx ITEM. Bellinzona, Switzerland.