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Once upon a time, more specifically during medieval time, universities were meant to be the places for teaching and shaping the elite administrators’ class of the regnant in charge. With the industrial revolution, professors were asked to improve the efficiency of the machines and the new production systems. During the Second World War, academia was the tool fostering technological innovation. In recent times, Richard Florida outlined a new University role in nurturing the rampant “creative class”, while John Scott recalled the needed postmodern shift of the university missions from teaching to research as a tool for public service mission, and Henry Etzkowitz designed a triple helix cluster which should blend the boundaries between university—industry—government. In this global competition and increasing pressures, the front is populated by some of the universities reported in this book. Visions, strategies, policies and action plans, brave management programmes, new interdisciplinary and cross-cutting committees, bottom-up governance structures and green teams, advanced IT system for energy management, are some of the strategies here reported from the front. While pursuing the emerging “third mission”, all initiatives described in the chapters also reveal a common, underlying, higher aspiration – to untangle and test how universities can help the localities and societies in which they stand to transition towards carbon neutrality, societal sustainability and resilience to climate change.
Patrizia Lombardi (PhD, MSc, BA/MA) is Professor and Chair of Urban Planning Evaluation and Project Appraisal at Politecnico di Torino (POLITO) and Head of the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning. She is Scientific Coordinator of the POLITO Green Team, supporting university strategies toward Sustainable Path. She is an established figure in the field of evaluating smart and sustainable urban development for over 20 years, publishing widely in the subject area and coordinating, or serving as lead partner, several international and Pan-European Projects, including: Value Metrics and Policies for a Sustainable University Campus (Marie Curie); MILESECURE-2050; DIMMER; POCACITO; SHAPE-ENERGY. She received a number of awards and grants from international associations, including the SIEBEL Institute.
Giulia Sonetti (PhD, MSc, BArch/MArch) is sustainability manager at the Politecnico di Torino’s Green Office and Research Assistant at the Interuniversity Department of Regional & Urban Studies and Planning, Politecnico di Torino (IT), Chartered architect and sustainability consultant, she earned a PhD in Estimate and Evaluation, a MSc in Renewable Energy at the University of Nottingham (UK), and she has been visiting researcher at the University of Hokkaido (JP), the EPFL (CH), the University of Cambridge (UK) and the Barcelona Super Computing Centre (ESP). She is now involved in many EU and National projects supporting better integration of energy-SSH into the policy process, urban sustainability evaluations, shared science approaches.