Stefania Giannini is an Italian politician and linguist. She is the Assistant Director-General for Education since May 2018, providing strategic vision and leadership for UNESCO’s Education Sector in coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the Education 2030 Agenda, encapsulated in Sustainable Development Goal 4.
Stefania has coordinated a number of relevant international projects in the field of higher education and research, contributing to the improvement of university cooperation between Europe and several other countries, from the United States to countries in Asia as well as the Middle East and North Africa region.
With an academic background in the Humanities (PhD in Linguistics), Ms Giannini became Professor of Linguistics in 1992 and served as Rector of the University for Foreigners of Perugia (2004 – 2012), being one of the first female Rectors and the youngest at that time in Italy.
Stefania has been a member of the Selection Committee of the Erasmus Mundus programme in Brussels (2005 – 2009), the person responsible for international relations in the Committee of The Conference of Italian University Rectors (2006 – 2010), and a member of the National Commission for the Promotion of Italian Culture Abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2006 – 2011).
In her role as Senator of the Republic of Italy (2013 – 2018) and Minister of Education, Universities and Research (2014 – 2016), Stefania developed and implemented a structural reform of the Italian education system, centred on social inclusion and targeting cultural awareness.
During the Italian Presidency, Stefania also chaired the Education and Competitiveness Council of the European Union to promote the importance of creativity, cultural heritage and innovation as tools for dialogue between diverse populations, with a view to preventing radicalization and extremism.
In addition to her current position as UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education, Stefania is the Advisor to the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation as well as a member of the Atlantis Group of the Varkey Foundation and of RISE (Research, Innovation and Science Policy Experts).
Stefania Giannini, born in Lucca, Italy, embarked on a distinguished career as an academic, politician, and advocate for education. She began her professional journey in 1991 when she became a professor at the University for Foreigners in Perugia. Over the years, she held various chairs in prestigious disciplines such as Phonetics and Phonology, Sociolinguistics, and Glottology and Linguistics until 2013. In recognition of her contributions to international cooperation programs, she received an honorary degree from the College Reges-Rede Gonzaga De Ensino Superior in Brazil in 2008.
In 2013, Giannini entered the political arena as a candidate in Tuscany with Mario Monti's party, Scelta civica, and was elected as a senator in February of that year. She later assumed the role of secretary and coordinator of the party, further solidifying her presence in the political landscape. Her dedication to public service led to her appointment as the Minister of Education, Universities, and Research in Italy on February 21, 2014, under Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's government. During her tenure, Giannini implemented a comprehensive reform of the Italian education system, focusing on promoting social inclusion and cultural awareness.
Giannini's influence extended beyond national boundaries. As Italy assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2014, she chaired the Education and Competitiveness Council of the European Union. Her commitment to education and research also led her to serve as an adviser to the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, starting from 2017. In recognition of her expertise and dedication, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay appointed Giannini as one of the four new members of the organization's senior management team in 2018.
Since her appointment, Giannini has been serving as the Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO, making her the highest-ranking United Nations official in the field of education. In this capacity, she has been instrumental in advancing global education initiatives and advocating for the importance of education in sustainable development. Giannini's expertise and contributions extend beyond her role at UNESCO, as she serves as a member of the Advisory Board for the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM) and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
Stefania has devoted her career to promoting education as a fundamental human right, through the importance of language, lifelong learning, culture, freedom of expression and identity, in an effort to ensure more inclusive and equal societies.
Stefania Giannini envisions a world where education is a transformative force, empowering individuals, communities, and societies to reach their full potential. Her vision is centered on the belief that education is a fundamental human right and a key driver of sustainable development. She strives for inclusive and equitable education systems that leave no one behind, regardless of their background, gender, or socioeconomic status.
Giannini's vision encompasses a holistic approach to education that goes beyond imparting knowledge and skills. She envisions education as a catalyst for social and cultural transformation, fostering understanding, tolerance, and respect among diverse populations. She advocates for education systems that nurture critical thinking, creativity, and innovation, preparing learners to thrive in the rapidly evolving global landscape. With a strong commitment to international cooperation and collaboration, Giannini seeks to build partnerships and mobilize resources to ensure access to quality education for all, paving the way for a more just, prosperous, and inclusive world.
Recognition and Awards
- ADG for Education, UNESCO - GEM 2020 l UNESCO YouTube
- UNESCO Executive Appointments l UNESCO HIST
- Transforming Education Summit
United Nations l United Nations
- Centre of excellence in teachers training to be established in Islamabad l The News
- SDGs in focus: SDG 4 and interlinkages with other SDGs - Quality education l High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, United Nations
- Stefania Giannini l Global Education Series
- Curriculum and Instructional Design on Sustainable Development l IBE United Nations
- Organisation chart Stefania Giannini l The Org
- CV summary l Global University Network for Innovation
- Stefania Giannini appointed Assistant Director-General for Education l UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education
- Stefania Giannini Featured Speaker l World Bank Live
- Stefania Giannini Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO l Wise Qatar
- Office of the Assistant Director-General for Education l UNESCO
- Stefania Giannini l Wikipedia
- Biography of Ms Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education l USJ
- Stefania Giannini, politician university professor l Prabook
- Italian Politician Stefania Giannini l Peoplepill
- Who is Stephania Giannini l Biographies
- Stefania Giannini during the opening ceremony of the fifth International Conference on Learning Cities l UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning
- Stefania Giannini profile l Bloomberg
- Stefania Giannini Biography l Alchetron
- Panelists l Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development United Nations