The Diffuse University to foster dialogue between academic knowledge and traditional knowledge

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto lays the foundations for the new project promoted by the University of Pollenzo

In Turin, on Friday 21 and Saturday 22, 500 academics, researchers and trainers from the food sector from all over the world will meet to lay the foundations for the Diffuse University, sharing their experiences and ideas.

“The idea of the Diffuse University emerged as the natural development of Terra Madre and the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo, both born in 2004 and have now become internationally recognized realities,” began Carlo Petrini, president of Slow Food, launching one of the most far-reaching projects of this twelfth edition of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto.

“Terra Madre”, he continued, “is above all a network present in 160 countries with thousands of delegates who are currently preparing to come to Turin. In recent years, Slow Food has increasingly focused on the promotion of products that are recognized as a universal and invaluable heritage. We owe a lot to the idea of the Slow Food Presidia: not only have we expanded the ranks of those who defend agrobiodiversity, but we have also found a way to strengthen local economies and communities. Because, once upon a time, all this was considered folklore, but today all mayors, producers, and artisans know the value of the product that distinguishes every single city in Italy. Even in our valleys, there are many young people, aware of what they have in their hands and who are rebuilding entire economies in marginal areas. These realities are true centers of culture: a cheesemaker who knows how to produce an excellent cheese deserves the same respect and attention as an academic. But there can only be dialogue between equals and to achieve it we must start from the conviction that neither of us has the truth. Traditional knowledge, moreover, is a fundamental subject to give answers to climate change, which is caused by a global agri-food system responsible for 21% of climate-altering emissions. Think that the entire transport system accounts for 18%.

Only by changing our daily behavior can we offer a solution to this problem and strengthen the dialogue between knowledge. This is why we are building a ground on which the path of the Terra Madre network and that of the University of Gastronomic Sciences can finally be integrated: this is how the Diffused University was born”.


Today’s event completes the journey started last June and organized in collaboration with the Association of Foundations of banking origin in Piedmont and La Stampa: “A Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, the largest event in the city of Turin, the project of Università Diffusa, which has the support of the CRT Foundation, brings together the strength of the food communities and related knowledge, which are the real engine of change in the country and the world,” said the President of the CRT Foundation and the Associazione delle Fondazioni di origine bancaria del Piemonte Giovanni Quaglia.

“With the colors, flavors and aromas of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, Turin is preparing to welcome citizens and visitors who can once again appreciate the best of world agri-food production, in the name of conviviality – underlines Alberto Sacco, Councillor for Trade and Tourism of the City of Turin -. Our city is a city that identifies with the values of good, genuine and sustainable food. We cannot forget that food is a central dimension that concerns every aspect of life as well as being culture, dissemination of correct models in the form of knowledge of nutritional principles and defense of products and dishes of the territorial tradition.

“The twelfth edition, which returns to Lingotto and also involves central points such as Piazza Castello and the reborn Lavazza complex in Borgo Aurora – concludes Alberto Sacco – is an incredible success from the tourism point of view as it puts our district at the center of international attention of the public, professionals, media and opinion makers. It is a unique opportunity both to take a concrete journey through the cultures of the world in the name of the pleasures of the palate, and to discover the artistic and historical heritage of our capital.

“Starting from our small University, we have managed to generate virtuous processes, especially with regard to the so-called Third Mission, that is, the ability to have a positive impact on the lives of citizens and on the territory. Our university deals with food at 360 degrees, but not only that: we aim to achieve food sustainability, or the right of communities to design a food system that meets their needs. To achieve this goal we have found that the classic path of the academy is not enough, because it generates vertical processes between those who know and those who do not know: instead, we will initiate horizontal processes. In the world, there is an interest in real and widespread food that comes from below and that determines our well-being and our happiness. But classical universities and training centers are no longer able to respond effectively to this need. The great challenge is access to knowledge, the democratization of knowledge. That is why we believe that academic knowledge should pay attention to peasant knowledge. Finally, the other element that convinced us to start the Diffused University is the need for new platforms: we cannot study communities and tell them what to do, we need platforms that allow the sharing and horizontal exchange of experiences. We at the University of Pollenzo are facilitating access to training in the field of food for all,” stressed the Rector of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, Andrea Pieroni.


On Saturday, September 22nd, the plenary assembly will conclude its work, with the presentation by the participants and the delegates of the ideas that have emerged and the visions to be realized in the future.

Here you can find in detail the program of the work of the Diffused University.



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