In love with knowledge for 25 years and counting
Institutional Communication Service
14 February 2021
In 2021 our University turns 25. Twenty-five years passionately dedicated to producing knowledge through education and scientific research and sharing it with society. Valentine's Day is an opportunity to reaffirm our love for knowledge together with our Rector, Prof. Boas Erez, with a reflection on the "production" of knowledge.
«Knowledge production and transmission are the key features of a university», points out the Rector.«As for many other institutions, producing knowledge makes us feel legitimate in relation to the institutions and citizens who support us, and it dignifies us in the eyes of society as a whole. After all, we could not do otherwise, and it is also what we have always done, and what we will continue to do. It is our very natural "raison d'être". It is the driving force behind our mission of education, scientific research and knowledge sharing. It is the motivation that drives our 3,350 students, our more than 350 professors and faculty, our 650 doctoral students and researchers, who together every day produce knowledge».
«And the passion for knowledge», continues Prof. Erez,«is the fire that fuels this knowledge laboratory - our University - in which we put our energies every day, for love and with a love of knowledge, in the belief that it represents a way to the future».
The myth of Prometheus
The Rector's remarks take us back to a well-known myth, that of Prometheus. Prometheus brought to mankind not only fire and therefore technology, but also mathematics, writing and astronomy. In other words, knowledge in a broad sense. The famous theft of fire - a symbol of both techne (craft, technique) and episteme (knowledge), of ars (art) and scientia (science) - was perpetrated in a somewhat symbolic place: the "lab" shared by Hephaestus, the god of know-how, and Athena, the goddess of knowledge in all its forms. As Giovanni Boccaccio points out in his intense and "humanist" rewriting of the myth: Prometheus' contribution as the "learned man" who is continuously striving to reach the "knowledge of things", was precisely what allowed human beings to redeem themselves from their "savagery" and "excessive coarseness" and to be reborn under "humanity & science".
Prometheus thus embodies knowledge in a broad and profound sense, expressing the crucial role of knowledge so to speak "applied" in the tangible development of society and, above all, the substantial significance that knowledge itself has in defining the essence of humanity.
A knowledge lab
Talking about a knowledge laboratory means recalling precisely the plural and fundamental nature of knowledge that mythology also reveals through another figure, that of the "demiurge", the divine fashioner described by Plato whose task is to translate the world of ideas into action in the world. The "demiurge" ("fashioner", "craftsman"), on the other hand, is etymologically one who "works for the benefit of the demos, the community".
«A university, as mentioned, is by definition an institution dedicated to the development and transmission of knowledge in the service of the community», our Rector recalls.«It is a place where truth is sought, and critical thinking applied, a site of universality and uniqueness where knowledge is developed. Such knowledge must remain free and primarily an end in itself. Still, it also must be shared in service to society - the fire stolen in the heavens must be brought to earth, to truly contribute to the scientific, cultural and technological progress on which our today and tomorrow depend to a large extent».
«USI's 25th», concludes the Rector,«represents an important opportunity to underline our very essence as a University. Throughout 2021 we will propose various initiatives organised in two main strands: 'USI is U', to tell the story of a unique and unexpected university where, for 25 years, one has been able to cultivate his or her potential through encounter and dialogue; and 'Facciamo conoscenza', meaning "deepening the mutual knowledge between our university and the territory" but also underlining the contribution of our University to the "production" of knowledge, our role as a knowledge laboratory which, in the footsteps of Prometheus and the demiurge, expresses not only the love for knowledge but also and above all knowledge as love, for humanity and its destiny».
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