University in the Digital Age

January 2009 - present
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Juan Carlos De Martin, co-director of the Nexa Center, continues to work on his book on University and Democracy in the Internet Age, signing a contract with a Turin-based publisher. The book has been published at the beginning of 2017. A CC-licensed version will be available online sometime after the launch.


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.


This research explores the (civic) role of Universities in the Internet age. 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.


Juan Carlos De Martin, co-director of the Nexa Center, completed 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" (Future University. Between democracy and bit), was published by Codice edizioni in February 2017 (under a Creative Commons License).

The work examines the role of Universities in the light of five global challenges for the 21st century - environmental, technological, economic, geopolitical and democratic - and articulates an idea of University which is at the same time old and new.
The book 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 an app called TwLetteratura, a social reading app, 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.

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