University in the Digital Age

January 2009 - present
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At February 2017, Juan Carlos De Martin, co-director of the Nexa Center, published his work on University in the digital age which he had started in 2011 during a stay at Harvard University. The book, titled: “Università futura. Tra democrazia e bit”, was published by Codice edizioni (under a Creative Commons License).


This research originated in particular from the intuitions of prof. Charles Nesson from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society ( at Harvard, who clearly saw – several years ago – the challenges and the opportunities that the cyberspace posed to universities, also in terms of their civic role. The first tangible result of these considerations, as elaborated at the Nexa Center, was the international conference University and Cyberspace: Reshaping Knowledge Institutions for the Networked Age (, (Torino, June 28-30, 2010). The conference was organized by the Nexa Center together with the Berkman Center of Harvard and also represented the last public event of the Communia European Thematic Network (") on the Digital Public Domain.


“Università futura, Tra democrazia e bit” explores the (civic) role of Universities in the light of five global challenges for the 21st century: environmental, technological, economic, geopolitical, and democratic. Universities are entrusted with the increasingly important responsibility of creating, sharing, and fostering the use of knowledge, and thus are the recipients of tremendous investments of time, money, space, and authority.
As we progress further into a networked age, our knowledge institutions are challenged by society to become a driving force to create and disseminate knowledge, using innovative approaches derived from and for the networked world.


“Università futura, Tra democrazia e bit” has been discussed in public in several occasions, including the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, the Senate of the Italian Republic, the Istituto Svizzero in Rome, the Politecnico of Torino, the University of Torino, the Politecnico of Milano, the University of Milan and the University of Naples Federico II.
In autumn 2017, the book “Università futura” was read and discussed by several secondary school classes. The students used a traditional educational method, as well as the social reading app Betwill (, fostering empathy in a digital environment. At the end of the project, Prof. De Martin met the students in a public occasion at Talent Garden, a coworking and learning space, in Turin.
In August 2018, Juan Carlos De Martin, as Rector’s Delegate for Culture and Communication of the Politecnico di Torino, participated to the Conference: “68 and beyond. Schools and universities in a changing world: ancient challenges in a new world?”, held in Rimini (
During the reporting period, there have not been official occasions for presenting the book, but Università futura. Tra democrazia e bit continues to be of inspiration for the promotion of a new idea of university inside and outside the Politecnico di Torino.

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