SUSST - Human and Social Sciences for Science and Technology

Polytechnic culture progress requires an increasing interaction with human and social sciences, notably in the engineering field. This fructuous collaboration would be a fundamental tool in formulating innovative solutions to nowadays challenges. Due to this awareness, Politecnico di Torino founded, on October 2018, the SUSST (Human and Social Sciences for Science and Technology) group of work, which is rooted in the pioneering experience started 20 years ago by the Istituto Superiore di Scienze Umane, and which treasures PoliTO already existing experiences  (Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning and Department of Management and Production Engineering)

SUSST core objective was to identify practical solutions that would place PoliTO among the best Northern-European Polytechnics, which in the last 20 years have been renewing their teaching offer, their research activities and their third mission. Following a well-established international path, they have been introducing the precious work of human and social scientists that operate in the field of science and technology. These actions are based on a number of fundamental assumptions:

  • the need to foster technical universities' social impact, adopting an interdisciplinary approach and a specific focus on nowadays controversies and challenges;
  • the will to shape high-level professionals and engineers, more aware of technology’s ethical, environmental and social impact;
  • the aim to strengthen student’s critical thinking and, more precisely, their overall comprehension of the techno-scientific solutions' framework, to get them more efficient.

The inclusion of social and human sciences into technical universities thus leads to a less sectorial teaching approach, contributing to the education of more flexible and high-skilled professionals, ready to faced nowadays complexities. 

Considering this need of dialogue and confrontation with other Italian universities equally interested to renewing their teaching, SUSST group included various professors and experts: Juan Carlos De Martin (coordinator); Giovanni Durbiano (Politecnico di Torino); Giovanni Vincenzo Fracastoro (Politecnico di Torino); Vittorio Marchis (Politecnico di Torino); Maurizio Ferraris (Università degli studi di Torino); Peppino Ortoleva (Università degli studi di Torino); Cristina Becchio (IIT and Università degli studi di Torino); Paolo Volonté (Politecnico di Milano); Luca De Biase (journalist and writer).

Here follows the outline review of SUSST activities:

  • November 2018-March 2019: mapping of national and international initiatives and on-site visits in Paris (École Polytechnique, École Centrale, École des mines, CNRS, ecc.) and in Lausanne (EPFL);
  • April-May 2019: meetings with the main PoliTO cultural areas and collection of further contributions;
  • May 31, 2019: public meeting about national and international best practices at PoliTO’s Aula Magna: "Quale ingegnere per il XXI secolo?";
  • Autumn 2019: identification of the best-suited human and social sciences profiles;
  • 2020-2022:
    • drafting of the "Big global challenges" study course;
    • design of a study center on technology, humanity and society;
    • finalization of the public calls on five previously identified disciplinary areas, resulting in the following new assistant professors:
      • Isabella Consolati, historian of political doctrines (DIST department);
      • Alvise Mattozzi, sociologist of cultural and communication processes (DIATI department);
      • Vera Tripodi, moral philosopher (DET department);
      • Roberto Lalli, historian of science and technology (DIMEAS department);
      • Francesco Nicoli, politologist (DIGEP department).
  • March-June 2022: first edition of the "Big global challenges" study course
  • April 2022: official institution of the THESEUS Center on technology, society and humanity, SUSST group successor.

Press review

(Italian only)

"Gli ingegneri del Polito a lezione di umanesimo", Corriere della Sera - Torino, 13 September 2019

"Il Politecnico. Studi umanistici per il 25% degli ingegneri", La Repubblica - Torino, 1 June 2019

"Quale ingegnere per il XXI secolo?", PoliFlash Magazine, 31 May 2019

Peppino Ortoleva, "Nell'era delle cose e della tecnologia ci salverà il sapere umanistico", Il Secolo XIX, 11 March 2019

"Il gruppo di lavoro SUSST del Politecnico in visita a Parigi e Losanna", PoliFlash Magazine, 8 March 2019

Stefano Parola, "A Torino c’è bisogno di ingegneri umanisti e di letterati più tecnologici", La Repubblica Torino, 11 January 2019

"Un nuovo paradigma formativo: “creatività e interdisciplinarità per i tecnici di domani”, PoliFlash Magazine, 24 February 2021

"Ingegneria e umanesimo: le iniziative del Politecnico per affrontare la complessità del nostro tempo", PoliFlash Magazine, 3 June 2021