24 February 2010: Official Inauguration of the European Doctoral Programme


In the afternoon of Wednesday 24 February, the inauguration ceremony of the European Doctoral Programme and its first doctorate in Modern History, “Europe and the Invention of Modernity”, was held at the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane (SUM), Palazzo Strozzi, Altana, Florence, in presence of the Mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, of the Prefect, Andrea De Martino, of the Archbishop, Giuseppe Betori, and of the Quaestor, Francesco Tagliente.

Mayor Renzi expressed his thanks to the director of the SUM, Professor Aldo Schiavone, emphasizing the importance which initiatives such as the European Doctoral School – which also involves the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris), the Humboldt-Universität (Berlin), and the Central European University (Budapest) – has for the future of the city.
“The presence of the SUM at Palazzo Strozzi is not a concession - Renzi said – but an opportunity for Florence not to rest tied up in its traditions and to look out at the international environment as a starting point for its future”. A note from the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, arrived while Aldo Schiavone, the director of the SUM and of the new Doctoral Programme, was introducing the speakers. President Napolitano expressed his “high satisfaction for the birth of this new international institution of advanced education in the human sciences, developed by the collaboration and cooperation between prestigious European research institutions”.
Professor Liviu Matei, vice president of the Central European University in Budapest, took up the idea of collaboration in his speech and illustrated the details of such an extraordinary programme which allows students and professors to experiment different research methods and to integrate their competences and knowledge. “We started a project that only some years ago seemed to be impossible - Matei said - and although we are aware of the difficulties, also with regard to the funding, we go ahead because it is a project in which we strongly believe”. The idea of sharing knowledge was also the starting point of the speech by professor Jacques Revel, former president of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and currently the coordinator of the doctorate on “Europe and the Invention of Modernity”. “I wish to underline that this is a collective program - Revel explained – developed by all the five involved universities. It suggests an innovative formula which aims to attract the necessary funds to support scientific research in the human sciences”.
The presence of the Director of the Ente Cassa di Risparmio of Florence, Antonio Gherdovich, confirmed the attention that the economy is increasingly paying to the human sciences, also thanks to a consolidated support that the Ente Cassa di Risparmio assures to prestigious educational activities.
While the first four students, coming from Argentina, China, Italy and Poland, are ready to face up the innovative programme for which they have been selected among 100 candidates, the second curriculum of the European Doctoral School is already under construction: “Sociology and Social Sciences of Religion”. In order to build up this new project, professors Franco Cardini, Ernesto Galli della Loggia and Leonardo Morlino have already been appointed as representatives of the SUM.

Message from the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano

Introduction to the Council of Scholars: Prof. Schiavone