Where we are now: Third Mission

Direct interaction with the economic and social fabric is an indispensable aspect of the contribution of the Normale to local, national and international development.
Indeed, even before this aimed intervention of the university in the productive and social spheres took the name of “Third Mission”, the Normale undertook numerous actions for transforming and making available beyond the academic context the knowledge generated within its walls.
Within the framework of a definition and classification drawn up by the MIUR in 2013, the Normale has been carrying out its Third Mission activities in both of the main spheres of intervention: the enhancement of research and the production of public goods.

As regards the first aspect – which has the aim of encouraging economic growth, rendering productively useful the knowledge produced by research – since 2015 the Normale has had at its disposal JoTTO, a planning initiative in collaboration with the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, the Scuola IMT Alti Studi Lucca and, since 2017, the Scuola IUSS of Pavia. JoTTO makes use of the experiences of technological transfer and of the complementary scientific competences of the four Scuole, in order to identify new strategies for the promotion of the results of research, through the safeguarding of intellectual property, the generation of start-ups and the setting in motion of collaborations with firms. For the Normale the JoTTO initiative is an excellent opportunity for collaboration with the other Scuole and with the world of industry, the latter in general less inclined to valorise and take part in activities of basic research.
In addition, in 2018 the Normale applied – together with the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna – to participate in HEInnovate, an initiative of the European Commission, the DG Istruzione e cultura (General Directive for Education and culture) and OECD's LEED Forum, supported by a group of six independent experts. HEInnovate is a self-assessment tool by means of which institutes of higher education can explore their potential for innovation in relation to business.

Regarding the production of goods and services of a social, cultural and educative nature, the Normale has for many years been promoting initiatives of great impact aimed at differing types of non-academic audiences, from students and teachers of the secondary schools to the general public: university orientation (activated as an experiment in 1967), refresher courses for teachers in collaboration with the Accademia dei Lincei, courses in  transversal skills  and orientation (to replace the Alternanza Scuola/Lavoro, a programme alternating school attendance with work experiences), initiatives against  school dropout, a concert season – in 2019 reaching its 53rd edition  – in collaboration with Pisa's theatre and the Fondazione Pisa, cinema festivals, a festival of international academic theatre, collective readings directly involving the public, speeches of dissemination by the researchers of the Normale and cycles of public conferences given by prominent figures in the world of culture, science and politics.
YouTube gives free access to the recordings of almost all of the events organised and, since March 2020, with the impossibility of carrying out the activities in person, the Normale has ensured the continuity of its social commitment by  transferring online most of its cultural and lifelong learning programmes.