DIST - Dipartimento di Eccellenza MIUR 2018-2022


A new horizon for research, teaching, and knowledge sharing


The DIST department is the point of reference for Turin’s Polytechnic and University in the cultural areas dealing with spatial transformation and spatial governance processes, from the local to the planetary scale. The department, focusing on the urban issue with a sustainability perspective, promotes theoretical and applied research, teaching, and knowledge transfer.

As a result of art. 1 of the L. 232/2016 (clauses 319, 320) the DIST department has been recognized as one of the 180 excellence departments of the Italian university system, and thus granted special funding for the 2018-2022 period (MIUR). The resulting Excellence Project aims at maximizing the department capacity to answer to the UN Agenda 2030 challenges (“Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development”, 2015) and, in specific, to contribute to reach the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goal 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

The DIST department, among the 180 funded, possesses peculiar features that will help to reach the objectives of the Excellence Project:

  • It is an interuniversity department and, for the first time during the Project selection process, it has been considered in its entirety;
  • It is the department with the highest degree of knowledge sectors diversity within the Polytechnic, and the third within the University of Turin;
  • It has a new Departmental Strategic Plan (2020-2023), being among the first departments to draft a strategic plan in the 2014-2020 period.


The urban question


The urban question has changed in radical and unforeseen ways, placing living, production, consumption and mobility practices in a framework where they intersect new fragilities, opportunities and risks. Demographic dynamics, climate change, migrations, new forms of industrial production, and the unexpected challenges of COVID-19 need to be newly interpreted and better understood to face ongoing changes, to promote action and to provide effective answers. These issues cannot be considered separately, since there are several economic, social, political and environmental problems that call for a greater innovation in the way research is organized, favoring interdisciplinary collaboration and interaction between basic and applied research, as well as a better understanding of forms and contents of teaching activities, to adapt to the deep changes in knowledge production and dissemination. It is important to promote a mutual transfer process of knowledge and information across the whole of the society, radically changing the way in which problems are recognized and tackled.


A point of reference


The DIST department aims at reinforcing its position as reference point – in Italy and worldwide – for studying spatial and urban transformation and governance processes, from the local to the planetary levels. It plans to do so by enhancing its capacity to provide decision-makers with relevant knowledge, supporting planning and government policies design and implementation.

The main goal is to produce a “good” research, that is a research with public relevance, whose values are both widely recognizable and recognized.


The strategy


The strategy to reach our goal includes different measures, to strengthen the DIST department capacity to answer to the challenges fixed by the SDG11:

  1. People: to work to reinforce the variety of competences of the departmental staff, thanks to ordinary and extraordinary resources, such as those provide by the Excellence Project;
  2. Meta-lab: to create a new technological and scientific platform, the SDG11Lab;
  3. Education and training: to strengthen the teaching offer of the department, including a new Master of Science program developed around the themes of the SDG11;
  4. International perspective: to activate a clear internationalization policy, both in the education and the research fields;
  5. Planning ability: to bolster the departmental staff capacity to write and manage research projects;
  6. Rewarding capacity: to review the rewarding and co-financing system that the department has in place for the use its ordinary funding;
  7. Monitoring: to take advantage of the yearly review processes (SUA-RD and CDS) to progressively monitor the implementation of actions of the Excellence Project, while verifying their coherence with the objectives of the Departmental Strategic Plan;
  8. Interuniversity organization: to streamline administrative issues that may hamper research and teaching activities across both universities;
  9. Third mission: to work in synergy with local and supra-local institutions and organizations to reach the SDG1 targets.