DIST is a composite department. It is made up of researchers from both the University and the Polytechnic di Torino, whose research activity is an expression of different thematic and disciplinary fields shaped by the encounter of technical knowledge, social sciences and humanities. DIST's research is an expression of the multidisciplinary ethos that characterises its composition; it is located within the different cultures that defines its profile and prefigures the possibility of dialogue between various approaches through the recognition and enhancement of epistemological and methodological differences.

The multi and inter-disciplinary experimentation and hybridisation is one of the distinctive features of the research carried out at DIST, which finds its expression in the "project of excellence" and in the reference to the principles of inclusion, resilience and sustainability contained in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 11. Moreover, this attitude shapes the relevance of the Department's research and its ability to renew itself in order to confront the present’s challenges - particularly in a phase of accelerated change and uncertainty as the current one - in which the response of a public institution to collective issues amplified by the pandemic, such as socio-spatial inequalities or the planetary dimension of the urban phenomenon, is measured.

The thematic and problematic articulation of DIST's research concerns three macro-questions - Urbanisation, Heritage and Climate Change - and consists of mono- and interdisciplinary research that investigate the interactions, both theoretical and practical, between urban issues, cultural heritage, landscape, environment, climate change and the experimentation of strategies and policies to adapt to its effects.