Teaching-in-the-field in a “hub” accommodating migrants in transit in Milan. challenges and opportunities for a “social and urban analysis” course

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The paper reflects on a teaching-in-the-field experience carried out in the context of the course of “Social and Urban Analysis” for students at the third year of bachelor in Planning at Politecnico di Milano. The course integrates the competences of two professors who are experts in urban sociology with a particular attention to inequalities and welfare provision, and in urban planning with a particular attention to immigration issues and multi-ethnic contexts. For this specific course, a collaboration was established with Fondazione Arca, a big third sector agency that assists homeless, drug addicted, vulnerable and deprived groups in Milan and in other cities. Arca currently runs the main centre -called “hub”- destined to accommodate refugees and migrants in transit arriving at Milan´s Central Station, where they receive basic services like food, short term accommodation, medical advice, orientation towards other existing services. Arca started to work on this issue in October 2013, in a first instance intervening in more “emergential” ways inside the station, and then finding new spaces to offer more structured services. The hub was opened in May 2016 thanks also to the significant support of the Municipality of Milan. Other public, third sector and voluntary bodies contribute to deliver different services inside the hub. This centre has been able to integrate the work of different public and third sector actors, becoming a best practice of “welcoming” migrants in transit in Europe.
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