University of Gastronomic Sciences
Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche
The main campus building, formerly a palatial summer lodge
The University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG) is an international academic institution in northern Italy. The campus is in Pollenzo, near Bra, a city in the north-west region of Piedmont. Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement, established the school as the first university to focus on the organic relationships between food and cultures. More than 1,500 students have taken courses at UNISG since it opened in 2004.
UNISG offers a variety of courses leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas related to gastronomy, food cultures and heritage, food ecologies, and food communications. As part of their curriculum, students go on study tours in European countries and other parts of the world.
Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement, established the international university in 2004 to train students for employment in food and tourism industries, food-related government departments, or food-related journalism. UNISG is the only slow-food university in the world. The school's mission, according to its web site, includes projects that protect biodiversity and build an organic relationship among gastronomy, biological, agricultural and food/nutritional sciences, and social sciences and humanities. It mirrors the mission of the Slow Food movement—which asserts that an understanding of food involves economics, environmental science, history, biology, and anthropology, as well as aesthetics—and is true to the movement's core principles of "good, clean, and fair".
A second campus, at Colorno, opened in 2005. It offered master's degrees centered on gastronomic sciences, food culture, and communications. Later in 2011 it merged with the programs at Pollenzo. The Master's degree possibilities had expanded by 2014 to four: Master of Gastronomy-Food in the World (with two streams: Food Ecologies and Sovereignty and Food Cultures and Mobility), Food Culture, Communication & Marketing, and Wine Culture, Communication & Management.
UNISG enrolls 100 students every year in the first year of the BSc program ("Laurea Triennale"), approx. 40 in the 2-yrs Master's program ("Laurea Magistrale"), and about 100 in the four one-year international Master's programs; in October 2017, the university hosted altogether approx. 500 students from more than 60 countries.
Organization and structure
The university's administration includes a rector, faculty council, board of directors, executive committee, administrative director, board of auditors, evaluation committee, and student representatives, each charged with a set of management duties. The directors, who oversee the administrative and financial management of UNISG, choose the Rector, who directs the school's academic and scientific activities. In 2017, Petrini is the President and Andrea Pieroni, a full professor of ethnobotany, is the Rector.
The Rector presides over the faculty council (acting in this case as an academic senate) which coordinates planning for UNISG's academic and research activities. In 2017, in addition to the Rector, the council includes all the full and associate professors, one representative of the researchers (assistant professors), and two student representatives.
In 1997, the property that includes the campus was one of a group added to the list of World Heritage Sites under the general name, "Residences of the Royal House of Savoy". Listed specifically as Castello di Pollenzo, the property covers 25.36 hectares (62.7 acres) and lies within a buffer zone of 492.44 hectares (1,216.8 acres). The complex includes the Banca del Vino (wine bank), and the Albergo dell'Agenzia—a hotel with a restaurant—as well as the university. A recent addition to the complex is the Corte Albertina, home to the university's Pollenzo Cookery School. The university's administrative buildings and teaching spaces have been retrofitted to modern standards.
UNISG students live in Bra. Each furnished, two- or three-person university apartment includes private bedrooms with a shared kitchen and bathroom.
UNISG offers a three-year undergraduate program leading to a BSc ("Laurea Triennale") in "Gastronomic Sciences and Cultures" (taught both in English and Italian, 180 credits); a two-years Master's program ("Laurea Magistrale", 120 credits), entirely taught in English, in "Food Innovation & Management", four one-year full-time Master's programs of 90 credits entirely taught in English ("Master of Gastronomy: World Food Cultures and Mobility" , "Master of Gastronomy: Creativity, Ecology, and Education", "Master in Food Culture, Communications & Marketing" and "Master in Wine Culture, Communication & Management") and one full-time Master's program of 90 credits taught in Italian: "Master di Ecogastronomia in Cucina". In all courses, students study an integrated mix of humanities (history of food, food aesthetics), biosciences (food biodiversity, nutritional sciences, taste science, food science and technology, agroecology, sensory science, and ethnobiology), and social sciences (food anthropology and sociology, communications, economics, food law, and food design).
In addition to coursework, students are required to attend field-study excursions throughout Europe and the world. During this process of hands-on learning, students meet Slow Food local food communities, local farmers, shepherds, fishermen, food artisans, producers, and experts, who explain the local food system, a particular product or food tradition, or a production area. The students also stay and visit these territories, observing local and traditional practices and tasting a wide range of regional food and drink.
While some courses are taught in English, students are encouraged to have a strong working knowledge of both Italian and English.
UNISG students attend in October the biennial Terra Madre and Salone Del Gusto events in Turin. All students are encouraged to contribute and actively participate in numerous workshops and seminars on topics of interest. Ongoing participation in several food conferences and events, such as the bi-annual Slow Fish in Genova in spring, are also part of the students' extracurricular activities.
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- "History and Mission". University of Gastronomic Sciences. 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
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- "Fees". University of Gastronomic Sciences. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- "Study Trips". University of Gastronomic Sciences. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- "Program". University of Gastronomic Sciences. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- "UNISG @ Slow Fish 2015". University of Gastronomic Sciences. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- Gastro master – Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) feature about a UNISG student
- Paid bloggers – The Globe and Mail (Canada) feature mainly about a UNISG graduate