“The roots of this university are centuries old, linked to the origins of the phenomenon of the birth of the universitas, which produced a unifying network of European peoples”. This is why the university is at the “foundations of the idea of Europe” and represents an “engine of its development”. This was stated by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, in the Lectio magistralis held at the University of Parma, on the occasion of the awarding of an honorary degree in International and European Relations.
“The history of universities – added the head of state – is an important part of the evolution of our societies. For almost a thousand years universities have characterized Europe. Even before the modern age was established, universities worked on the land that it would prove to be a prerequisite for a European conscience, they helped to compose a unitary body, they experimented with new rules of civil customs based on law, on the arts, on medicine, on philosophy. European and that it still has the highest number of universities and higher education institutions in the world “.
“The story of its universities is not extraneous to European civilization and history: reflecting on Europe without referring to their experience since the time of the pilgrimage of clerici vagantes – Mattarella pointed out again – would mean depriving oneself of an essential reference. it would be to ignore the ius commune, developed in universities and which for many centuries was the law shared by most of continental Europe, unified by the fundamental principles of law “.
“Meritocracy cannot be synonymous with a formula that legitimizes those who are already in a position of privilege, but rather that of those who aspire to get involved. An authentic democracy knows how to recognize that before any academic merit there is a merit to live, the fruit of ‘meeting with the reality of the facts and with the drive for emancipation from them “, Mattarella affirmed, recalling:” Everyone faces their own existence within a community of origin, sometimes modest and fragile, but must be able to choose to aspire to a community of purpose whose doors are opened by knowledge “.
“Sometimes the fascination of a vision that imagines the university system as a business tends to prevail, according to an economic logic. But the ‘profit’ that can be drawn from the university is the growth of human capital, the country’s true strength. , as well as the fruits of research to be made available to the entire community “, then said the head of state.
“It is good to treasure the lessons learned in these two difficult years” of the pandemic. “We have been forced to face grief, suffering, heavy limitations, and the harsh crisis that has ensued still affects the economy and social balance. But we have understood, beyond any reasonable doubt, what value scientific knowledge and professionalism have operators, social cohesion, the common response that comes from a civic sense and from the awareness of a shared destiny “, Mattarella reiterated. “The European social model – the head of state recalled – is innervated by these values, which are, at the same time, cultural and social. They are also civil, indicated in daily life. The European institutions and the public policies of the Union they will increasingly have to take into account “.
“Europe can also benefit from the university on a political and civil level to experiment more sophisticated forms of citizenship in the freedom of study and research. All this applies to Italy, where there is a great paradox: we are the nation that gave origin, strength and continuity to the idea of a university – and the University of Parma boasts this title, together with other ancient universities – but our country is unfortunately in the queue for the number of graduates, also for investments “, he said Mattarella again. “Our university – complained the head of state – is not as attractive as it deserves. We could say: it is not loved as it should. essential for the development of the country. It is a commitment of the institutions, of the universities in their autonomy, of the social and economic forces, in short, of all the dynamic parts of those articulations that enrich the life of our communities. democracy from that of high culture is an indispensable key to face the transformations of global society “.