The University of Bologna (Italian: Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, UNIBO) is a public research university in Bologna, Italy. Founded in 1088 by an organised guild of students (studiorum), it is the oldest university in continuous operation in the world, and the first degree-awarding institution of higher learning. At its foundation, the word universitas was first coined. With over 90,000 students, it is the second largest university in Italy after La Sapienza in Rome.
It was the first place of study to use the term universitas for the corporations of students and masters, which came to define the institution (especially its law school) located in Bologna. The university's emblem carries the motto, Alma Mater Studiorum ("Nourishing mother of studies"), the date A.D. 1088. It has campuses in Cesena, Forlì, Ravenna and Rimini and a branch center abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It also has a school of excellence named Collegio Superiore di Bologna. An associate publisher of the University of Bologna is the Bononia University Press. The university saw the first woman to earn a university degree and teach at a university, Bettisia Gozzadini, and the first woman to earn both a doctorate in science and a salaried position as a university professor, Laura Bassi.
It is commonly ranked amongst the best universities in Italy, and is especially renowned for its studies in law, medicine, and the natural sciences. University of Bologna had a central role in the sciences during the Italian renaissance, where it housed and educated Nicholas Copernicus as well as numerous other renaissance mathematicians.
The date of the University of Bologna's founding is uncertain, but believed by most accounts to have been 1088. The university was granted a charter (Authentica habita) by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in 1158, but in the 19th century, a committee of historians led by Giosuè Carducci traced the founding of the university back to 1088, which would make it the oldest continuously operating university in the world. However, the development of the institution at Bologna into a university was a gradual process. Paul Grendler writes that “it is not likely that enough instruction and organization existed to merit the term university before the 1150s, and it might not have happened before the 1180s.”
The university arose around mutual aid societies (known as universitates scholarium) of foreign students called "nations" (as they were grouped by nationality) for protection against city laws which imposed collective punishment on foreigners for the crimes and debts of their countrymen. These students then hired scholars from the city's pre-existing lay and ecclesiastical schools to teach them subjects such as liberal arts, notarial law, theology, and ars dictaminis (scrivenery). The lectures were given in informal schools called scholae. In time the various universitates scholarium decided to form a larger association, or Studium—thus, the university. The Studium grew to have a strong position of collective bargaining with the city, since by then it derived significant revenue through visiting foreign students, who would depart if they were not well treated. The foreign students in Bologna received greater rights, and collective punishment was ended. There was also collective bargaining with the scholars who served as professors at the university. By the initiation or threat of a student strike, the students could enforce their demands as to the content of courses and the pay professors would receive. University professors were hired, fired, and had their pay determined by an elected council of two representatives from every student "nation" which governed the institution, with the most important decisions requiring a majority vote from all the students to ratify. The professors could also be fined if they failed to finish classes on time, or complete course material by the end of the semester. A student committee, the "Denouncers of Professors", kept tabs on them and reported any misbehavior. Professors themselves were not powerless, however, forming collegia doctorum (professors’ committees) in each faculty, and securing the rights to set examination fees and degree requirements. Eventually, the city ended this arrangement, paying professors from tax revenues and making it a chartered public university.
The university is historically notable for its teaching of canon and civil law; indeed, it was set up in large part with the aim of studying the Digest, a central text in Roman law, which had been rediscovered in Italy in 1070, and the university was central in the development of medieval Roman law. Until modern times, the only degree granted at that university was the doctorate.
Bettisia Gozzadini earned a law degree in 1237, being one of the first women in history to obtain a university degree. She taught law from her own home for two years, and in 1239 she taught at the university, becoming the first woman in history to teach at a university.
In 1477, when Pope Sixtus IV issued a papal bull, authorizing the creation of Uppsala University in Sweden, the bull specified that the new university would have the same freedoms and privileges as the University of Bologna - a highly desirable situation for the Swedish scholars. This included the right of Uppsala to establish the four traditional faculties of theology, law (Canon Law and Roman law), medicine, and philosophy, and to award the bachelor's, master's, licentiate, and doctoral degrees.
Laura Bassi was born into a prosperous family of Bologna and was privately educated from the age of five. Bassi's education and intellect was noticed by Prospero Lorenzini Lambertini, who became the Archbishop of Bologna in 1731 (later Pope Benedict XIV). Lambertini became the official patron of Bassi. He arranged for a public debate between Bassi and four professors from the University of Bologna on 17 April 1732. In 1732, Bassi, aged twenty, publicly defended her forty-nine theses on Philosophica Studia at the Sala degli Anziani of the Palazzo Pubblico. The University of Bologna awarded her a doctorate degree on 12 May. She became the first woman to receive a doctorate in science, and the second woman in the world to earn a philosophy doctorate after Elena Cornaro Piscopia in 1678, fifty-four years prior. She was by then popularly known as Bolognese Minerva. On 29 October 1732, the Senate and the University of Bologna granted Bassi's candidature, and in December she was appointed professor of natural philosophy to teach physics. She became the first salaried woman lecturer in the world, thus beginning her academic career. She was also the first woman member of any scientific establishment, when she was elected to the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Bologna in 1732. Bassi became the most important populariser of Newtonian mechanics in Italy.
In 1971, the Graecist Benedetto Marzullo in company with Umberto Eco, Renato Barilli, Adelio Ferrero. instituted within the Faculty of Letters and Arts the DAMS (acronym of discipline delle arti, della musica e dello spettacolo, "Dicipline of Arts, Musics and Performance"). It was the first degree course of this type to be opened in Italy. Between December 26, 1982, and November 29, 1983, there occurred the DAMS murders (in Italian: Delitti del DAMS), dealing with four victims who were students or professors of the DAMS: Angelo Fabbri (a brilliant student of Umberto Eco), Liviana Rossi, the dancer Francesca Alinovi (who was stabbed for 47 times), and Leonarda Polvani.
Higher education processes are being harmonised across the European Community. Nowadays the university offers 101 different "Laurea" or "Laurea breve" first-level degrees (three years of courses), followed by 108 "Laurea specialistica" or "Laurea magistrale" second-level degrees (two years). However, 11 other courses have maintained preceding rules of "Laurea specialistica a ciclo unico" or "Laurea magistrale a ciclo unico", with only one cycle of study of five years, except for medicine and dentistry which requires six years of courses. After the "Laurea" one may attain first level Master (one-year diploma, similar to a Postgraduate diploma). After second-level degrees are attained, one may proceed to second level Master, specialisation schools (residency), or doctorates of research (PhD).
The 11 Schools (which replace the preexisting 23 faculties) are:
- School of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
- School of Economics, Management and Statistics
- School of Engineering and Architecture
- School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Interpretation and Translation
- School of Law
- School of Arts, Humanities, and Cultural Heritage
- School of Medicine and Surgery
- School of Pharmacy, Biotechnologies and Sport Sciences
- School of Political Sciences
- School of Psychology and Education Sciences
- School of Sciences
The university is structured in 33 departments (there were 66 until 2012), organized by homogeneous research domains that integrate activities related to one or more faculty. A new department of Latin history was added in 2015.
The 33 departments are:
- Architecture - DA
- Cultural Heritage - DBC
- Chemistry "Giacomo Ciamician" - CHIM
- Industrial Chemistry "Toso Montanari" - CHIMIND
- Arts - DARvipem
- Pharmacy and Biotechnology - FaBiT
- Classical Philology and Italian Studies - FICLIT
- Philosophy and Communication Studies - FILCOM
- Physics and Astronomy - DIFA
- Computer Science and Engineering - DISI
- Civil, Chemical, Environmental, and Materials Engineering - DICAM
- Electrical, Electronic, and Information Engineering "Guglielmo Marconi" - DEI
- Industrial Engineering - DIN
- Interpreting and Translation - DIT
- Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures - LILEC
- Mathematics - MAT
- Experimental Medicine, Diagnostic Medicine and Specialty Medicine - DIMES
- Psychology - PSI
- Agricultural Sciences - DipSA
- Management - DiSA
- Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences - BiGeA
- Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences - DIBINEM
- Education Studies "Giovanni Maria Bertin" - EDU
- Agricultural and Food Sciences - DISTAL
- Economics - DSE
- Legal Studies - DSG
- Medical and Surgical Sciences - DIMEC
- Veterinary Medical Sciences - DIMEVET
- Department for Life Quality Studies - QUVI
- Political and Social Sciences - SPS
- Statistical Sciences "Paolo Fortunati" - STAT
- Sociology and Business Law - SDE
- History and Cultures - DiSCi
Affiliates and other institutions
In the early 1950s, some students of the University of Bologna were among the founders of the review "il Mulino". On 25 April 1951 the first issue of the review was published in Bologna. In a short time, "il Mulino" became one of the most interesting reference points in Italy for the political and cultural debate and established important editorial relationships in Italy and abroad. Editorial activities evolved along with the review. In 1954, the il Mulino publishing house (It. Società editrice il Mulino) was founded, which today represents one of the most relevant Italian publishers. In addition to this were initiated research projects (focusing mostly on the educational institutions and the political system in Italy), that eventually led, in 1964, to the establishment of the Istituto Carlo Cattaneo.
The Collegio Superiore is an excellence institution inside the University of Bologna, aimed at promoting students' merit through dedicated learning programmes.
The institution was founded in 1998 as Collegio d'Eccellenza. Together with the Institute for Advanced Study it is part of the Institute for Higher Study.
The Collegio Superiore offers an additional educational path to students enrolled in a degree programme at the University of Bologna, providing specialized courses as part of an interdisciplinary framework.
All students of the Collegio Superiore are granted a full-ride scholarship and additional benefits such as the assistance of a personal tutor and free accommodation at the Residence for Higher Study. In order to remain members of the Collegio Superiore students are required to maintain high marks in both their degree programme and the additional courses.
Beatrice Fraboni, professor of Physics of Matter, has been head of Collegio Superiore since 2019.
- Adone Zoli, former Prime Minister of Italy.
- Cardinal Alberto Bolognetti
- Pope Alexander VI
- Álvaro de Figueroa, former Prime Minister of Spain.
- Anna M. Borghi, Italian cognitive psychologist
- Augusto Righi, pioneer in the study of electromagnetism
- Carlo Goldoni, Italian playwright
- Carlo Rovelli, Italian theoretical physicist
- Carlo Severini
- Saint Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan
- Corrado Gini, Italian statistician, demographer and sociologist who developed the Gini coefficient/ratio.
- Dante Alighieri, Italian poet, writer and philosopher
- Daria de Pretis, Italian jurist, Constitutional Judge of the Constitutional Court of Italy.
- Diego Della Valle, chairman of the Italian leather goods company Tod's
- Enzo Ferrari, Italian racing driver, engineer and entrepreneur
- Erasmus of Rotterdam
- Fabrizio Zilibotti, Italian economist and Professor of International and Development Economics at Yale University.
- Fawziya Abikar Nur, Minister for Health and Social Care - Somalia.
- Gabriele Paleotti
- Gasparo Tagliacozzi, pioneer of plastic and reconstructive surgery
- Giacomo Matteotti
- Giovanni Pascoli
- Pope Gregory XIII (Ugo Boncompagni);
- Pope Gregory XV
- Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro, Italian mathematician and the inventor of tensor calculus.
- Guglielmo Marconi, Italian inventor and radio pioneer
- Henry of Susa (Hostiensis);
- Pope Innocent IX
- Irnerius, founder of the School of Glossators
- Joaquín Chapaprieta, former Prime Minister of Spain.
- Juan Fernando López Aguilar, former Minister of Justice - Spain.
- Julius Caesar Aranzi, the pioneer human anatomists and surgeons.
- Laura Bassi, the world's first woman to earn a university chair in a scientific field of studies
- Lazzaro Spallanzani, Italian priest, biologist and physiologist
- Leon Battista Alberti;
- Luigi Galvani;
- Manuel Olivencia, lawyer and academic;
- Mauro Moretti, former CEO and general manager of Leonardo S.p.A.
- Marcello Malpighi;
- Michelangelo Antonioni;
- Nicolaus Copernicus, formulator of the heliocentric universal model;
- Cardinal Paolo Burali d'Arezzo;
- Paracelsus, founder of the discipline of toxicology;
- Patrizio Bianchi, Minister of Public Education in the Draghi Cabinet
- Pico della Mirandola;
- Pier Luigi Nervi, Italian Structural engineer and architect of UNESCO Headquarters Paris (1950).
- Pier Paolo Pasolini;
- Pierluigi Collina, Chairman of the FIFA referees committee
- Piero Gnudi, Minister of Tourism and Sports in the Monti cabinet.
- Pietro Mengoli;
- Remo Gaspari, Minister of Relationships with the Parliament and Minister of Public Function in the Bettino Craxi and Giulio Andreotti Cabinet.
- Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula One Group and former CEO of Italian sports car manufacturer Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.
- Archbishop Thomas Becket;
- Tommaso Perelli, Italian astronomer
- Torquato Tasso;
- Ulisse Aldrovandi;
- Umberto Eco, Italian semiotician, philosopher and writer
Faculty and staff
Notable former faculty include:
- 11th century
- 12th century
- 13th century
- 14th century
- 15th century
- 16th century
- 17th century
- 18th century
- 19th century
- 20th century
- 21st century
Rankings and reputation
The 2022 QS World University Rankings ranked the University of Bologna 166th in the world and 71st (first in Italy) with reference to academic reputation. In another measurement by the same company, it was positioned among the world's top 100 universities for graduate employability (84th).
In the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, it claimed the 167th place globally. In the THE Impact Rankings of the same year, measuring the universities' commitment to sustainable development in compliance with the UN 2030 Agenda, Bologna took first place in Europe and sixth in the world.
Nationally, in 2020 Bologna topped Italy's main ranking of large public universities (> 40,000 students) for the eleventh year in a row, produced by the Italian Center for Social Investment Studies.
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- Bologna declaration
- Bologna process
- Coimbra Group (a network of leading European universities)
- Collegio Superiore di Bologna (school of excellence of the University of Bologna)
- List of Italian universities
- List of medieval universities
- Medieval university
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