University of Gastronomic Sciences

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University of Gastronomic Sciences
Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche
Università Scienze Gastronomiche (esterno).jpg
The main campus building, formerly a palatial summer lodge
Type Private, non-profit
Established 2004
President Carlo Petrini
Dean Piercarlo Grimaldi
Location Bra, Piedmont, Italy

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 2,000 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 culture and heritage, food journalism, farming methods, Italian food preparation, and marketing. As part of their curriculum, students go on study tours in European countries and other parts of the world. In early 2015, a group of UNISG students studied food culture in Minas Gerais, Brazil.


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.[1] UNISG is the only slow-food university in the world.[2] The school's mission, according to its web site, includes projects that protect biodiversity and build an organic relationship between gastronomy and agricultural science.[3] 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".[1]

Petrini chose the Agenzia di Pollenzo, a 19th-century neo-Gothic palace, for the school's campus.[4] The Savoy royal family built the original structure in 1833 as a summer lodge.[1]

A second campus, at Colorno, opened in 2005. It offered master's degrees centered on gastronomic sciences, food culture, and communications.[5] Later merged with the programs at Pollenza, the master's degree possibilities had expanded by 2014 to four: Food, Place and Identity; Human Ecology and Sustainability; High-Quality Products; and Representation, Meaning and Media.[6]

UNISG enrolled about 60 students in its first year;[4] since then more than 2,000 have taken courses at the university.[3] In March 2015, 57 students from 16 countries—Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, South Korea, Ethiopia, Germany, Japan, Italy, Mali, Mexico, Ghana, United States, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand—received diplomas from the school.[7]

Organization and structure[edit]

The university's administration includes a dean, 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 dean, who directs the school's academic and scientific activities. In 2015, Petrini is the president of the board of directors, and Piercarlo Grimaldi, a professor, is the dean.[8]

The dean presides over the faculty council, which coordinates planning for UNISG's academic and research activities. In 2015, in addition to the dean, the council includes five full and associate professors, a researcher representative, and a student representative.[8]


The University of Gastronomic Sciences campus is in Pollenzo, a suburb of Bra, Italy.[1] Bra is in the province of Cuneo, about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Turin.[9]

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".[10] 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).[10] The complex includes the Banca del Vino (wine bank), and the Albergo dell'Agenzia—a hotel with a restaurant—as well as the university.[11] A recent addition to the complex is the Corte Albertina,[12] home to the university's Pollenzo Cookery School, which offers master courses in "The Slow Art of Italian Cuisine".[13] 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.[14]


UNISG offers a three-year undergraduate program leading to a BSc in Gastronomic Sciences; three one-year master's programs (Food Culture and Communications, Italian Wine Culture, The Slow Art of Italian Cooking), and a two-year master's program (MA in Promotion and Management of Gastronomy and Food). With the exception of the two-year program, students study an integrated mix of humanities (history of food, food aesthetics), food bioscience and technology (including nutritional sciences, molecular principles of taste, agroecology, organic agriculture, and ethnobiology), food anthropology and sociology, communications, and economics.[15]

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 with local farmers, food producers, and professors, who explain in depth a particular product, tradition, or production area. The students also stay and visit the areas, observing local and traditional practices and tasting a wide range of regional food and drink.[1][16] In February 2015, UNISG students visited farming centers, rural communities, fishing villages, and restaurants in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil.[17]

While some courses are taught in English, students are encouraged to have a strong working knowledge of both Italian and English.[15]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

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,[18] are also part of the students' extracurricular activities.


  1. ^ a b c d e Kummer, Corby (1 January 2008). "Slow Food, High Gear". The Atlantic (January/February 2008). Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Kindel, Constanze (2 November 2014). "Italiens Slow-Food-Uni: Hogwarts aus Parmesan". Frankfurter Allgemeine (in German) (Frankfurt, Germany: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "History and Mission". University of Gastronomic Sciences. 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Bruni, Frank (2 April 2004). "Pollenzo Journal; A New Italian Campus, Where the Thought Is for Food". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Campanini, Antonella; Cinotto, Simone (2008). "The UNISG Master Programs". Gastronomic Sciences (University of Gastronomic Sciences) 8 (4): 127–31. 
  6. ^ Szanto, David (12 June 2014). "UNISG Turns 10!". Slow Food. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Graduation Day 2015". University of Gastronomic Sciences. 6 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Organizational structure". University of Gastronomic Sciences. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Bra". Cittaslow International. 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Residences of the Royal House of Savoy". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 2012–15. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "L'Agenzia di Pollenzo" (in Italian). Agenzia di Pollenzo. 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Italian Cooking Schools". Gourmet Traveller (ninemsn). Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "Support Pollenzo Cookery School". University of Gastronomic Sciences. 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  14. ^ "Fees". University of Gastronomic Sciences. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Program". University of Gastronomic Sciences. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "Study Trips". University of Gastronomic Sciences. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "From February 16 to 26, Students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences Tour the State of Minas Gerais, in Brazil". University of Gastronomic Sciences. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  18. ^ "UNISG @ Slow Fish 2015". University of Gastronomic Sciences. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 

External links[edit]

  • Gastro masterSydney Morning Herald (Australia) feature about a UNISG student
  • Paid bloggersThe Globe and Mail (Canada) feature mainly about a UNISG graduate

Coordinates: 44°40′59.90″N 7°53′41.90″E / 44.6833056°N 7.8949722°E / 44.6833056; 7.8949722