Our society is not liquid (in many respects, it is more solid and normative than ever), but it is certainly porous, one where the exchange between science, business and the humanities has become increasingly feasible and necessary. This is the framework behind Scienza Nuova, the MIT for the humanities of the University of Turin. Developed as part of the collaboration between the Laboratory of Ontology (LabOnt) and the University’s “Innovation and Competitiveness” Strategic Project (Picto), the Institute of Advanced Studies “Scienza Nuova” intends to develop the highest level of interdisciplinary collaboration to study the transformation of society, labour, and business.
State of the Art
There are many institutes of advanced studies in Italy. A prime example is the School of Humanistic Studies in Bologna, wanted by Umberto Eco. Scienza Nuova feels particularly close to the latter in terms of culture, although it intends to focus more on the sphere of relations between the humanities and business. Our team has also developed a good relationship with the IMT School for Advanced Studies in Lucca, with the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, and with the IUSS Higher University School in Pavia. Scienza Nuova also has developed collaborations with international schools operating in this sector: for example, the Centre for Ethics and Technology (4TU.Ethics) founded in 2007 by the board of three technical universities in the Netherlands (Delft, Eindhoven, and Twente) to study ethical issues in the development, use and regulation of technology; and the Center for History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Aberdeen.
The starting point of Scienza Nuova is the obvious observation that the humanities can no longer rely on the automatic and quasi-religious prestige that was reserved for intellectuals in traditional societies (including Italy until not long ago). This was a positive change, which pushed the humanities to learn new languages (English, for example, but taking care not to forget the others, like Italian); to dialogue with the rest of society; and to understand that humanistic culture is not the opposite of science and technology, but rather itself a kind of technology (made of writing, interpretation, archiving and invention) that is particularly powerful and useful also for science. Due to the transformations brought about by the documedia revolution, the conditions are now in place for the emergence of what Jacques Derrida called “the humanities to come”, capable of interacting not only with science, but also with technology and professional life, increasing their inherent interdisciplinarity. It is highly probable that in fifty years university faculties will be organized very differently from the way they traditionally used to be. What is certain is that this restructuring will be all the more effective the more one understands that between science, technology and humanism there is no contrast, but rather an essential connection. We are technological and scientific animals, and this is what makes us human.
In this context, the inspiring principle of Scienza Nuova is twofold. Firstly, the contribution of the humanities to the three spheres of business, labour and society must not adapt to transformations occurring outside the university, but rather anticipate and invent new forms of collaboration and intervention in which the humanities can unfold their peculiarity and originality. Secondly, Scienza Nuova aims at working together with the Polytechnic University of Turin at all three levels of teaching: Bachelor, Master, and PhD. Scienza Nuova has three main goals: the establishment of a research incubator to enhance the international competitiveness of the University; the implementation of a three-level inter-university education, aimed at improving the synergy between the University and the Polytechnic; the accomplishment of the third mission to better represent the function and the field of the humanities within the framework of the documedia revolution.