What is AtWork?

“We want to inspire a new generation of thinkers”

Simon Njami

AtWork is an itinerant educational format, conceived by Moleskine Foundation and Simon Njami, that unlocks the creative potential of young people through critical thinking, growing their sense of self-awareness and self-confidence, and stimulating their changemaking attitude.

It contributes to building a new generation of creative thinkers and doers. 

AtWork is a 5-day intensive workshop for about 25 participants, conducted by a unique creative mind. The participants debate the chosen topic and produce a final creative output – getting At-Work – by personalizing a notebook, which becomes their answer to the question posed. Yearly themes of AtWork Tours stimulate collective discussion and personal reflection on issues such as identity, diversity, culture, and community. The creative outputs are first exhibited in a local collective exhibition and then in the final international Tour exhibition. The participants can then choose to donate their works to the Moleskine Foundation Collection.

All AtWork participants become part of the AtWork Community, a group of global creative thinkers who believe that creativity can be a tool for social transformation.

AtWork offers a transformative experience and is committed to providing young people (18-27 years old), who would not otherwise have access to a similar educational offer, with unconventional educational tools and experiences that help foster critical thinking, creative doing, and continuous learning.

Why AtWork?

Today, we experience a growing realization that information itself does not bring important change if not first transformed into knowledge and, second, used.  It means that our success as society will be based not only on how much we know, but mainly on our ability to think and act creatively. Within this context, young people from underserved communities are often left behind due to lack of access and opportunities to develop the necessary self-awareness and creative skills to become active players in society and to spark the social changes needed both within their communities and society at large.

The AtWork methodology is a uniquely developed methodology that is inspired by many alternative and radical schools of thought stemming from the psychology, education and arts fields. It echoes the necessity of the alternative form of education that puts such soft skills as creativity and emotional intelligence at the center, in order to achieve self-discovery and become an agent of social change. It is encompassed in the notion that education itself is a political act and aims at participants’ self-discovery of their voices. Unlocking the power of young people from underserved communities would inspire truly inclusive, diverse, and global conversations that can drive radical social transformation.

AtWork Vision and Impact

AtWork’s ultimate vision is to foster a positive social transformation, namely an inclusive society of active protagonists who have safe spaces in which to practice creativity and critical thinking within their respective communities, creating innovative solutions for social transformation.

AtWork’s impact goals are developing the self-awareness and agency of youth and support the development of inclusive communities of young people capable of thinking critically and taking action for positive change in their society.

AtWork Format

The AtWork format is composed of four main elements: the workshop, the exhibition, the community, and the collection. The combination of these elements creates the unique quality of the format.

AtWork is a format that is delivered thanks to strong partnerships nurtured by the Moleskine Foundation, mainly with local and international cultural organisations (i.e. cultural centres, museums, galleries, etc.).


The Workshop

The AtWork process starts with the participants writing their interpretation of the chosen workshop theme. This is a way to get their thinking process started, which will be the starting point of the workshop group discussion and will later spill out into the conversation with the larger AtWork community.

The workshop lasts 5 days, during which the students, led by the artist/curator will have critical discussions around the theme chosen and will produce their notebooks.

The workshop will follow an Input-Elaboration-Output structure. The main phases will consist in:

  • Critical debate and discussion around the workshop theme
  • Idea elaboration and definition
  • Notebook production and restitution

Workshop participants

The participants can be students and young creative talents of different backgrounds. The more diverse is the group the better.


The exhibition is the first occasion for sharing and bringing the discussion outside the work group.
This activity is key for the effectiveness of the workshop as thanks to the exhibition the workshop participants will interact and confront their ideas with an external audience, creating a wider discussion and strengthening their critical thinking experience. The notebooks produced by participants can be showcased physically at the local art gallery alongside with the on-line exhibition of the rest of the collection. The exhibition can take place right after the workshop or after it, to allow some time to prepare it and curate it properly. In fact, the co-creation the exhibition along with the hosting organization is part of the workshop’s activities, where the students can continue their debate as well as their personal process while acquiring some basic curatorial skills.

Community and Collection

The community building aspect of AtWork is at the core of the format. Through AtWork Facebook Group on-line we want the participants to be connected to a larger international and cross-cultural network of like-minded people as well as be part of a space, where they can exchange their experiences, share opinions and practices.

The students can decide to donate their notebook produced during the workshop to Moleskine Foundation, adopting Creative Commons licences. In this case their notebook will become part of our collection (physically and on-line), thus sustaining Moleskine Foundation’s mission and future AtWork’s initiatives. The on-line part of the collection continues to inspire new young minds all over the world with the breadth of its creative proposal during various AtWork experiences. Being part of the collection is also a unique opportunity for the students to exhibit their work alongside prominent contemporary artists, without any hierarchy of the works’ importance. This horizontal approach is at the core of the entire AtWork experience and allows the workshop participants to cross their local dimension boundaries and enter an international arena of discussion with wide and diversified audiences.

AtWork is a very flexible, adaptable and cost efficient format. The one week duration of the program between the workshop and exhibition preparation can easily enter in a class program or other pre-existing education program.

So far Moleskine Foundation has implemented 18 chapters  of AtWork format in partnership with local cultural organizations in 14 countries across Africa, Europe, and North America, inspiring more than 500 students. Go here to see all the various chapters implemented so far.

AtWork Faculty

The AtWork Faculty is an educational body consisting of AtWork workshop conductors.  They are the exceptional creative personalities who share the values of the Moleskine Foundation and are willing to contribute their time, expertise and passion to bring AtWork vision to life.  Their diverse backgrounds and sensibilities enrich AtWork format’s offer and prestige, make it replicable in various contexts and allow to deliver up to ten quality AtWork chapters per year in various languages.

The current AtWork Faculty consists of:

AtWork pillars

AtWork operates following three pillars:

  1. UNLOCK: At an individual level, it unlocks the creative potential of young people, providing emotional development and leveraging their creative skills, such as critical thinking, creative doing, and lifelong learning. This results in a growing sense of self-awareness and self-confidence and develops young people’s sense of agency.
  2. TRANSFORM: At a community level, AtWork transforms the individual skills acquired during the workshop into an actionable project that can bring social transformation within the local community, led by a self-organised AtWork amumni group (AtWork Hub).
  3. CONNECT: At a global level, it ensures that alumni, Hubs, and partners are connected through a global international platform of like-minded creative thinkers capable of creating impact on local and global scale.

Key Target

AtWork’s key target group are youth aged between 18 and 27 years old, especially those who would not otherwise have access to similar experience. While AtWork will attract youth from all backgrounds, it focuses on reaching those who are not exposed to many self-development inputs, either because they cannot access them economically or because their context does not offer such opportunities.

Therefore, AtWork tuition fees are free for all participants, everyone applying for AtWork will be competing to be selected for a scholarship that will cover the tuition fees.

AtWork Vision (by Simon Njami)

“What AtWork is proposing is not the teaching of useless abstract theories based on vertical teacher-student relationships, but the idea of knowledge as a living thing. Knowledge is not an external element that comes to enlighten us. It is indeed recognition – that is, the realization of what is already inside us, hidden in our souls, without our knowing or conceptualizing it; in other words, it is the process of becoming aware of all the things we need to make sense of the visible and invisible world. We have nothing to teach anyone: “The light that permits encountering something other than the self, makes it encountered as if this thing came from the ego.

The light, brightness, is intelligibility itself; making everything come from me, it reduces every experience to an element of reminiscence. Reason is alone. And in this sense knowledge never encounters anything truly other in the world” (Emmanuel Levinas).

This inner light that belongs to everyone just asks to come out; and provided that we have the necessary intellectual and human tools, our role is to help this light reveal itself and flourish.

…I see AtWork as a large, non-institutional university allowing the exchange of views, experiences and contexts. Our project does not intend to promote a univocal view of art theories and creativity, which is far from our intentions, but to establish a resonating environment where specific tools become pertinent even outside their original contexts. Therefore, we are not speaking of learning in the academic and traditional sense of the word, but of knowledge, exchanges and discoveries as sensible and human experiences, far from any presumption of objectivity…

AtWork intends to promote this kind of idealism that activates the solitary character of reason, helping individuals think for themselves and within themselves. We have long understood that there is no such thing as objectivity. There are only more or less explicit wills to power. The flame of reason is flickering. It is our responsibility to revive it. This is the ambition of our modest contribution.”

Read the full text here

“We have nothing to teach anyone… This inner light that belongs to everyone just asks to come out; and provided that we have the necessary intellectual and human tools, our role is to help this light reveal itself and flourish.”

Simon Njami

Moleskine Foundation

The Moleskine Foundation is a non-profit organization that pursues a mission of ‘Creativity for Social Change’. Its purpose is to inspire, encourage and connect young people to transform themselves and their communities through creativity. It does so by providing unconventional education tools and cultural experiences that help fostering critical thinking, creative doing, life-long learning and a changemaking attitude. A central belief is that creativity is key to producing positive change in society, reducing inequalities, and driving our collective future.

Young people from underserved communities are often left behind due to lack of access and opportunities to develop the necessary self-awareness and creative skills to become active players in society and to spark the social changes needed both within their communities and society at large.


AtWork credits

  • Format conceived by
    Moleskine Foundation and Simon Njami

    Simon Njami

    Curator (2010-2013)
    Katia Anguelova

    Program implementation
    Moleskine Foundation

    Graphic and web design
    Zetalab and PaperPlane

    Notebooks photos
    Lucio Lazzara, Eleonora Quadri, Raffaele Bellezza, Rocco Soldini

  • Translations
    Laura Giacalone (English-Italian)
    Coquelicot Mafille (Italian -French)

    Curator of selected AtWorkers’ notebooks’ concepts
    Raffaella Carillo

    Contact email

    With the support of
    Schermata 2016-03-10 alle 16.02.06

Special thanks to

A special thank you to all the artists, students, authors of the texts, and all the friends and partners that have supported us in various ways and made AtWork possible.

A special thank you to all the contributors to our AtWork Addis Ababa campaign on Kickstarter:
Aiko Terao, Aleksandra Zalewska, Alessandra Di Maio, Alessia, Alessia Casini, Alex Lexi Read, Alexander Laich, Alice Jasmine Crippa, Alice O, Allegra Bordoni, Anna Jäger, Anna Meneguzzo, Antje Majewski, Antonia de Ceglia, Arnaud Cohen, Aureile Lagarde, Barbara Badioli, Beth Viner, Brian Wilk, Camilla, Camilla Catania, Carlos Sandoval, Carola, Caterina Corsini, Caterina Grimaldi, Chan Thim Yung, Clara Ursitti, Coquelicot, Cristiano Taglioretti, Cristina Preatoni, David Butler, David Bychkov, Delio Jasse, Elena Galliani, Elena Korzhenevich, Eleni, Elide Brunati, Elisa Cambioli, Elisa Campanaro, Elise Billiard, Elizabeth Valleau, Ellen Gianesin, Ennio Polito, Enzo Cereda, Federico Di Puma, Federika, Fiona, Francesco Franceschi, Franziska Baetcke, Fred Kuwornu, Gaia Blandina, Gbaguidi, Giada Cioffi, Giancarlo Gianesin, Ginny, Gio Pesce, Giorgio Brenna, Giulia Brivio, Giulio Scialpi, Guido Romeo, Henrike, Hilmar Isaksen, Ilaria Fruscio, Indiana Production Company SRL, Intrinsic Games, Isdahl, James Lucie, Jeffrey Dettmann, Jellel Gastel, Jimmy Robert, Joelle, John Stein, Kara, Karen Milbourne, Laura, Laura Toubale, Letizia Schmid, Lidia Dal Cengio, Lorenza Daverio, Luca Barnabé, Luca Immovilli, Lynette Bushuyu, Maddalena De Ferrari, Majken Sander, Maren Sanneh, Maria Barberi, Maria de Ceglia, Maria Ellis, Maria Sebregondi, Marie-Ann Yemsi, Marina Mottin, Marina Spadafora, Martina Simeti, Martino Galbusera, Mary Cinque, Massimo Gonzo, Matilde, Matt Garo, Matthias Reichwald, Maura, Maura Ferzi, Mauro Da Pozzo, Max Tuncar, Mercedes Vilardell, Michela, Michèle Reymond, Mikaela Zyss, Missla Libsekal, Monica, Mouna Karray, Myanna, Nadine Lopez, Nation 25, Nicolò Massazza, Paola Miglio, Paola Pace, Paolo Boccardi, Patrizia Campanaro, Paul Sader, Pierluigi, Pietro Gonzo, Raffaele Bellezza, Raffaella Carillo, Ricky Hartung, Roberto di Puma, Rose Mbogho, Rossella Zanelli, Rosticher Nathalie, Serena Salvione, Silvia, Silvia Mazzucchelli, Silvia Salvadori, Silvia Vercelli, Siri Sauvage, Souley, Stefan Brall, Stellafbb, Steven V-l Lee, Tammah, Tania Gianesin, Theophilus Marboah, Touria El Glaoui, Valentina, Valentina Gonzo, Veronica Taglioretti, Victoria, Walter Terzini, Wilbur E. Jordan, Jr., Witold Zyss, Wunmi, Xaviera Simmons and The Kitchen, Zosia Swidlicka

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