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Padova - 22 Mar 2022


The future passes through 800 years of history. In the coming days, the events from Free your Future come to life with a program of conferences, conventions, shows, festivals, exhibitions, and other initiatives that the University of Padua has prepared to celebrate its entry into the next century of history. Founded in 1222, the University of Padua is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutes of higher education in Europe, and one guided in its mission to uphold the value of freedom, as is witnessed in the words engraved in its historic motto Universa Universis Patavina Libertas. It is precisely freedom – a fundamental principle not to be taken for granted, as recent events show – which the program of celebrations is built upon.  Divided into four parts (Free Ideas, Free Science, Free Nature, and Free Arts) the program is brought to life from the same cosmopolitan and welcoming spirit that is based on yet another historical characteristic of the University, a meeting place for dialogue and where cultures and knowledge merge.

Moments that are particularly symbolic in the calendar of events, for which some have already happened and some that will continue until the begging of 2023 include the Celebration Days of Eight Centuries (May 19-23). This full week of celebrations begins with the inauguration of the 800th Academic year followed by the lectures of three Nobel Laureates (Dutch physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft, British mathematician Roger Penrose, and American economist Joseph Stiglitz) as well as a lecture by one of the most important voices in contemporary literature, the Indian writer and anthropologist Amitav Ghosh. These important guests will not be the only major international guests to join us in Padua this year: the Nobel Lectures series continues in the autumn with the Swiss astronomer Didier Queloz, the Roman physicist Giorgio Parisi, the British biochemist Paul Nurse, and the American physicist Adam Guy Riess. Addressing the current scientific debate between vaccines and biotechnologies include Derrick Rossi, Vicente Vérez Bencomo, and Pedro A. Valdes-Sosa. Founder of the pharmaceutical company Moderna, Derrick Rossi joins us during the Celebration Days. Vicente Vérez Bencomo, who is the director of the team that developed Cuba’s homegrown anti-SARS CoV-2 SOBERANA vaccine, will be the guest speaker in June’s CICAP Fest, along with Pedro A. Valdes-Sosa who is the director of the Institute of Science in Havana. The American geneticist and biologist Douglas C. Wallace (who will receive an honorary degree in Medicine and Surgery), the Roman mathematician Alessio Figalli (Fields Medal 2018), and the British writer and historian Mary Beard will also make their way to Padua.

By studying the past and when trying to reinvent the future, we must pay attention to the turbulence we are experiencing in the present. During April and May, the Free Ideas series hosts three honourable Italian politicians.  Padua will host the Minister of Economy Daniele Franco on April 1, the President of the Constitutional Court Giuliano Amato on May 6, and Romano Prodi who is the former President of the European Commission and the former President of the Council of Ministers who will offer his talk entitled Europe, in a world of tension on May 11.

The very essence of history is told through those who helped shape it, such as the scientist Galileo Galilei, the writer-partisan Luigi Meneghello, the mathematician Tullio Levi Civita, the anti-mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone, each presented as the protagonists of performances, conferences, and tributes, which also include events aimed at a younger audience.

We retrace the extraordinary adventures of the University of Padua through literary presentations including the Patavina Libertas series (European history of the University of Padua) the video installations (The Shape of Memory), and the meeting series (The Overseas to the Global South). Original conferences, guided tours, and performances will offer a map to rediscover and relive eight centuries of the cultural and artistic history of the University and the city of Padua itself (8 × 8: Eight Stories for Eight Centuries).

Nature blossoms at the Botanical Garden with the 2022 edition of the Risvegli festival (between April and May), and the summer proposals of the Garden of Wonders (from June to September).  Sending a strong message across the land and through the sea in support of environmental sustainability the University leads the Scholares Vagantes cycling relay from Oxford to Padua, passing through Bologna, Salamanca, Paris, and Cambridge (April 21 to June 18). Taking the helm with the A Sail for the Blue project, as University of Padua teams of researchers sail across the Atlantic to study the contamination of microplastics found in the oceans.

A horizon of sound fills the air with jazz and voices of the avant-garde with a series of concerts offered by the Opera Libera events (which have already begun and will continue until June before resuming in the autumn).  Comprising a full spectrum of performances from the world of music, cinema, and theatre, the University will welcome Frankie Hi-NRG MCGiovanni SollimaLuigi Lo CascioMarco Paolini, Andrea Pennacchi, Marco Baliani, and Ascanio Celestini.

For one year, the University of Padua will host important international meetings (Arqus European University Alliance, Coimbra Group, the celebratory conference for the 100th anniversary of the Italian Mathematical Union).  In collaboration with the Turin International Book Fair, the University has co-designed events to take place simultaneously with the Celebration Days.  The University is joined by Italian Cultural Institutes and Embassies and Consulates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation with the project Free Your Future: Padua in the world. The series of meetings in which the University of Padua sets out as an ambassador of its historical, cultural, and scientific excellence to be shared and promoted around the world.

At the end of the celebrations, the University inaugurates the new Botanical Museum, revealing a new interactive display to enhance its historical collections.  While Palazzo Cavalli unveils its transformation into the Museum of Nature and Man, combining the collections of Mineralogy, Geology and Palaeontology, Zoology, and Anthropology museums merging to become Europe’s largest university museum. New doors will open to start the next 800 years in the best possible way.