Interpreting migration today. The point with Prof. Semi Trevisan, MIM coordinator


The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree “Crossing the Mediterranean: towards Investment and Integration (MIM)” is the feather in the cap of Ca’ Foscari’s international degree programmes. It is financed 100% by the European Union (Erasmus+ programme) and is coordinated by Ca’ Foscari University Venice together with UAB University of Barcelona, Paul Valéry 3 of Montpellier and the added participation with the Universities of Strasbourg, Meknès and Sousse. This Degree course has received its first rating from the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).
The MIM is coordinated by Professor Emanuela Trevisan Semi (Department of Asian and North African Studies) and was chosen in 2014 by the European Commission on the basis of a strict selection process. In fact, the projects had to achieve a minimum point score of 70 out of 100 (achieving at least 75% in terms of relevance and 60% for all the other selection criteria) to be taken into consideration. The MIM was one of the 11 Master’s to be selected from the 58 presented by tertiary institutions from all over Europe.

The high score achieved by the Master’s (80/100) puts it in the good practices area, which holds long term aspirations as the Master’s is financed for three editions, 2015-17, 2016-18 and 2017-19, at the end of which will be subjected to a European Quality Review. This could, in turn, generate joint financing for a further three editions for the periods 2018-20, 2019-21 and 2020-22. EACEA’s evaluation has highlighted the high number of requests, proof of the master’s “attractiveness … and the relevance of the academic field”, the “long-standing partnership experience of the consortium” and the worth of the “quality assurance plan”, as well as the “promotion and dissemination activities”.

Emanuela Trevisan Semi, professor of Contemporary Hebrew Language and Literature, created the MIM 18 years ago starting from her own field of studies. “In observing the Jewish history from the point of view of migration offers an up-to-date and in depth perspective,” she explains, “There are differences.  The Jewish people have, for example, always been literate, but a number of common traits return and these may suggest inclusive policies that, in the long term, are advantageous.”

The Professional Master’s programme, now a Master’s Degree programme, studies a model of integration based on inclusion. “There is a concrete risk of rejection,” she continues, “which brings the daily disasters we face today.
When the first migrations from southern Mediterranean areas towards Europe started occurring in the 1980s, the first reactions were of exclusion. Even back then there was talk of building walls in Lombardy and I started to see how Jewish migration could be considered a ‘model’ for the current migration situation as well as a starting point for more widespread research such as the one offered by the Professional Master’s Diploma.
The Jewish diaspora is, perhaps, the first example of the construction of alterity.  The Jews, bringers of a different religion and culture, have been segregated in ghettos, the outskirts of towns and cities, in the same way that happens to migrants today. And, like today’s migrants, they work in areas in which the majority are excluded, for example, in loans for interest, forbidden by the Catholic religion or in activities of travelling trade.
Solidarity within the diaspora is another typical trait that is seen today. Migrants maintain strong ties with their land of origin, “Holy Land” for the Jews, where the desire to return remains strong. They contribute to the economic and social evolution of their country of origin, offering economic support to the families that remain. These strong ties may also cause challenging situations such as the exportation of conflicts between the Muslims and Jews born in Palestine and which are repeated today in other countries by the second generations.
A further, rarely considered, aspect is the one tied to the creativity of those that live “beyond” borders. One example is the many Jews who have won Nobel Prizes. In fact, studies have confirmed that to have transnational ties favours creativity, innovation and inventiveness.
The Spanish Edict of Expulsion of 1492 marked the decline of the Spanish Golden Age opening the doors to a period of impoverishment. In Istanbul, where most of the exiled Jews migrated to, signalled the beginning of a period of prosperity. This could imply that the countries which estrange foreigners, may often deny themselves great possibilities. In the long term, favouring inclusion constitutes many advantages.”

The MIM Master’s Diploma, now a Master’s Degree is held entirely in English, French and Spanish. It holds great international value both in terms of teaching and participation as students come from all over the world. The first Call for the 2015-17 edition saw 176 candidates who competed for 33 posts, 13 of which completely covered by scholarships. The selection phase of the second Call for 2016-18 has just been completed and has witnessed 157 applications from over 45 different countries. The Graduate Impact Survey, recently published at,
by the European Commission reports that 40% of Erasmus Mundus graduates find full-time employment within 2 months.