On October 5, Franklin participated in Speakers’ Corner, an event to encourage students and communications professionals to collaborate over their interest in digital innovation. The event, which featured prominent journalists, communications professionals, and academics, took place in the Palazzo dei Congressi in downtown Lugano. These keynote speakers addressed the importance of digital literacy across the public and private sectors, and academia.

Bear Matthews, a second-year student at Franklin University Switzerland, was in attendance. When asked about the event, Bear remarked that it was “insightful to hear from thought leaders and tech innovators throughout Switzerland.”

During the Swiss Digital Days event, which will take place between 1-3 November, student work will be featured in the form of four-minute-long videos. In the meantime, participating students around Lugano are preparing full production videos with the help of an experienced mentor. These videos will cover a broad range of interests, from student research in digital innovation to personal experiences working in the tech industry.

Bear will be the first Franklin student to participate in this cross-sector initiative. His presentation will center on his work with Astra Labs, a youth-led non-profit that develops technological solutions to global issues. Since its inception in 2016, Astra Labs has created numerous digital apps that support marginalized communities.

Earlier this year, the youth-led tech non-profit partnered with similar organizations to create a mental health app for frontline workers battling the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. Bear partook in the development of Isolated, but not alone, which took less than one week. Upon deployment, this web application provided roughly a quarter-million front-line workers with free mental health counseling.

As one of five executives at Astra Labs, Bear’s video will delve into the non-profit’s development process, team frameworks, and vision for the future. Participating in Speakers’ Corner is a way for Bear to expand his knowledge about the rapidly-changing field of digitalization, represent Franklin’s innovative potential as a liberal arts institution, and represent Astra Labs’ mission as the organization seeks to broaden its relations in Europe.

Since starting at Franklin in 2019, Bear has balanced his academic work with his job. He finds this balance crucial because technological skills complement a liberal arts education. According to Bear, “when you work in a technological arena, you often find yourself at a point of transition where your skillset is out of date. That will never be true about a liberal arts education. Although it’s amazing to be at a point of constant innovation in technology, liberal arts provide a foundation that is timeless.”

The Speakers' Corner project is promoted by the City of Lugano and Lugano Living Lab, in collaboration with the three universities in Lugano, Franklin University Switzerland (FUS), the Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana (SUPSI) and the Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI).

For more information:

Speakers' Corner

Swiss Digital Days