Opening the inaugural day of the 2014-2015 Academic Year, Dean Piercarlo Grimaldi recalled the University’s tenth anniversary, celebrated, he said, “with the humility that distinguishes us, but with a hint of pride that derives from our having faced an unprecedented challenge and moving into new, often unexplored territories.” He then went on to discuss the peculiarities and merits of the gastronomic sciences. “The Pollenzo Manifesto, the first draft of which we presented during our tenth anniversary last year, traces the history and outlines the future scenarios that make us conscious advocates of the new language of food. Using it as a base for discussions, we have spoken with the Minister of Education, Universities and Research with the aim of having the specificity of our courses recognized and our University granted a degree class more in keeping with the subject of gastronomic sciences. Our joint aim is to present this innovative project on the world stage of Expo 2015, and for this I wish to thank Minister Giannini publicly.”
Carlo Petrini echoed his words and, addressing the Minister directly, said, “Dear Minister Giannini, now that the University has been functional for eleven years and in this, the year in which the world spotlight is on the issues we address thanks to the Expo, the moment has come to gamble on the specificity of gastronomic sciences. If politicians and the government take a positive view of the thought process we have set into motion to recognize to gastronomic sciences a role they have never had hereto, then Pollenzo must surely be a source of pride for the whole country.”
Speaking about the Expo, Petrini also recalled last Saturday’s “Idee di Expo,” or Expo Ideas, meeting at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan: “‘Idee di Expo’ opened an important debate on environment and sustainability issues and I hope won’t end there. For two important players are still missing from the scene. The first is the multitude of people who are in the field or out at sea producing our daily food every day, and who, to some extent, are the distinctive element of the Expo itself. The second is young people, because it is the generations of the future that the themes and the vision of an event of this kind will benefit. The Expo has to involve the UNISG students in a dual sense, for here we are addressing both the future of food and the incongruences of the food sector, the social hardship that the system generates. Pollenzo judges the merits of these issues through the relationship between food and local areas, between health and social justice, precisely because it studies the gastronomic sciences.” He concluded by addressing the students: “We are preparing to play an important role inside and outside Expo, and we welcome your ideas and commitment to make them all the more central for UNISG.”
The Minister of Education, Universities and Research Stefania Giannini declared that, “Today has confirmed to me the specificity of an academic experience that is part and parcel of the Universitas Studiorum tradition. Pollenzo is a ‘think tank’ of fertile creativity that starts at an individual level but becomes innovative when it is systematized as part of the university community. The Pollenzo Manifesto represents the future perspective of a University that fully deserves a place at the Expo. The event will be a success if we Italians manage to use it and if the event manages to speak about the values of our culture, but also if it manages to express a commitment for the future: in short, a perspective. In this respect, for me the Expo will begin in November 2015 and the measure of its success will become clear when we understand whether our efforts will leave something for future generations, and if it becomes a celebration of the knowledge and culture of health and sustainability.”
The most impassioned speeches of the Pollenzo community came from two students. Agostino Petroni, the Faculty Council representative, urged his colleagues not to be shy: “We students are the soul and lifeblood of the University of Gastronomic Sciences. For this Academic Year, I hope all my colleagues will continue to express their ideas here with courage and purpose, thereby helping the place to grow and improve, so that it remains a strong reference point for us in the future.”
For Laura Wuethrich, president of the Students Association, “Many cultures meet here, though sometimes dialogue is made difficult by differences in language and background. At the end of our months, sometimes years, of study, we will take away the baggage of experiences, emotions and opportunities that we have been lucky enough to acquire in this special place”.
Finally, Stefania Ribotta, the UNISG administrative manager, ran through the history and achievements of the University, stressing some of its distinctive features: “Since 2004, the inaugural year, the University of Gastronomic Sciences has welcomed almost 1,700 students, half of them foreign, from more than 70 countries. Every year 450 students attend the University’s various courses: from the three-year undergraduate and graduate degree programs, to the Masters, from the Cookery School to the Advanced Apprenticeships. All this has been made possible thanks to the 170 companies and institutions that support the Association of Friends of the University and the 34 Strategic Partners that support research activities.”