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The Peter Serracino Inglott Award

Peter Serracino InglottPeter Serracino Inglott

Fr Peter Serracino Inglott, who died in 2012, was a founder member of the board of the Today Public Policy Institute, Malta’s only independent, non-partisan think-tank. He always gave of his time generously and provided level-headed input on every policy topic on the think-tank’s agenda.

The Today Public Policy Institute has established an award in tribute to his memory, known as The Peter Serracino Inglott Award, which will be given annually for outstanding contributions made by any individual or organisation to the causes of civic thinking and engagement.

The simplest way to describe Fr Peter is that he was a national treasure, in the truest sense of the word.

An academic colleague of his described him as “a true polymath, a thinker capable of multi-disciplinary synthesis in the arts, cultural history and international relations and in philosophy and theology.His contributions in philosophy, politics, music and the arts are numerous and varied.”

He was, indeed, a philosopher, theologian, academic, writer, mentor, friend and priest.

But it is in the manner in which he contributed to a range of causes and the quality of his input, his kindness, his humility, humour and breadth of vision that we all still miss. His life touched so many.

Above all, he was a good and most lovable man who, as an outstandingly enlightened and open-minded priest, gave spiritual comfort and encouragement to all those who turned to him for support.

He was involved in many different causes and aspects of Maltese life. The breadth and originality of his contributions were such that colleagues all over Malta – at the university, in the arts and music, in Maltese culture and heritage – still continue to miss him to this day.

This is why the annual Peter Serracino Inglott Award in his memory, which precisely focuses on the very areas that were closest to Fr Peter’s heart – civic participation and creative social innovation – is so apt.

Civic thinking, civic participation and civic engagement are defined as being individual or collective actions or thinking which are designed to identify and address issues of public concern. The principle of civic engagement underscores the most fundamental aspect of democratic governance.

That sovereignty ultimately rests with the people – not the government of the day – who through their civic engagement and participation lay down the qualities of caring and community which they hold dear.

Civic engagement can be defined as the process of working together to make a positive difference in the civil life of our communities and developing the combination of skills, knowledge, values and motivation to enhance our quality of life.

Civic thinking, civic participation and civic engagement are defined as individual or collective actions or thinking which are designed to identify and address issues of public concern

You have only to examine the list of hundreds of voluntary organisations affiliated to the Council for Voluntary Organisations to see the huge involvement of civic bodies doing sterling voluntary philanthropic work in the community in helping the seriously ill, the disabled, the elderly and children, the many disadvantaged in society, facing the challenges of immigration, as well as in the environmental and cultural heritage fields, to understand that there must be many extremely eligible contenders for the first Peter Serracino Inglott Award for civic engagement.

An innovation that has had a marked improvement on the quality of life of a particular social group, such as social integration or social inclusion, or an important contribution to education policy or programmes would also qualify for consideration.

The author of a book or treatise with original theories, thoughts or ideas that contributed to the good of civil society would also qualify. As would an initiative by the government either at the national or local council level which had led to the greater social or other good to the Maltese civic community. In short, the Award will be given to any individual, organisation or institution for any initiative or project having civic participation and creative social innovation at its heart.

Possible examples of those who might have received an award in the past that come immediately to mind are: the Maltese climbers of Mount Everest for their charitable work and courageous endeavour; Edward de Bono for his ground-breaking work on thinking skills; Ambassador Arvid Pardo for his initiative on the law of the sea and the heritage of mankind; and many in the charitable or environmental fields. And Fr Peter himself, of course! The list is not exhaustive, but only provides a guide to what the annual Award is seeking to encourage and to reward.

The winning individual or organisation will receive a handsome Mdina Glass statuette of a thinker. Rather like the Oscars, there will be no monetary reward but simply the great honour of being given recognition for excellence in the field of civic engagement in Malta.

The criteria which the judging panel will take into account in assessing the nominations will be based on the quality of the initiative, the social benefits it has achieved, the number of individuals it has positively affected, the prospects for its continued sustainability and its relevance and importance in the Maltese context. The initiative does not have to be originally Maltese but it can be a replication of an initiative from another country that has been successfully implemented in Malta for the well-being of civic society here.

The Today Public Policy Institute wants to encourage people and organisations that might be eligible for this prestigious award to be put forward for consideration.

Time is short. The first citations for the 2015 award should be submitted to the Today Public Policy Institute, c/o The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, Republic Street, Valletta by June 30. A judging panel will consider all the entries and the first annual award will be made in November this year.

Anybody wishing to get advice on how to propose an organisation or an individual for the Award is requested to contact Joe Tabone by e-mail: joseph.v.tabone@gmail.com who will be pleased to provide further details.

Recognising the value of bestowing due recognition on those who contribute through their efforts to enhancing civic life in Malta, President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, has graciously consented to make the award at a ceremony at the Palace in Valletta in November.

Details will be announced in due course.

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