Our founder

The Università Popolare di Milano was founded in 1901 by Ettore Ferrari, an Italian sculptor, politician and professor, but above all a great protagonist of the artistic celebration of the new Italian state following the Unification that took place a few decades earlier.

It was the work of Ferrari, among others, the statue of Giordano Bruno still in Piazza Campo de 'Fiori, in Rome. Ferrari was also a professor at the Istituto Superiore di Belle Arti, a member of the Italian Parliament and Grand Master of Masonic obedience to the Grand Orient of Italy.

When Ferrari founded the Università Popolare in 1901, Milan was not the city we know today. Fashion, design and services in the tertiary sector were still a long way off. The Milanese society was composed mostly of peasants and workers, so much so that a few steps from the center there were either industrial warehouses or fields, many of which remained even in the following decades, as also recalled by the song "Il ragazzo della via Gluck" by Adriano Celentano.


The beginnings

In this scenario of the beginning of the century, the school was the privilege of a few and the University appeared even more inaccessible.

In Italy as in the rest of Europe, the Popular Universities (the first were founded in Sweden, Denmark, England and France already at the end of the nineteenth century) engaging in educating an ever-increasing number of people of any age and social class.

They involved distinguished men of culture and professionals who offered their time and skills in this mission. For many of them it was a fascinating challenge and, for the time, "nonconformist".

The Università Popolare di Milano was one of the first to be born in our country. To it, in Milan alone, other popular universities were soon added: the Università Popolare Milanese, the Università Popolare (in) Milano, the Università Proletaria Milanese (also called "dopolavoro").

Illustrious men of culture

Gabriele D'Annunzio was one of the greatest supporters of popular culture and taught for some years in our university. Like him, other illustrious men of culture were teachers, including Giovanni Bovio, Benedetto Croce, Ludovico Mortara, Roberto Ardigò, Gioacchino Volpe, Luigi Einaudi, Gaetano Salvemini and Francesco Pullé.

Fundamental to the spread of the cultural revolution was the contribution of the fortnightly magazine L'Università Popolare founded by Luigi Molinari in Mantua in 1901, then moved to Milan where he directed, until 1918, the periodical publications Università Popolare Milanese currently preserved in the museum archives of our University.

La Seconda Guerra Mondiale
La Seconda Guerra Mondiale

Fascism and World War II

World War II meant a radical change in education and culture.
Benito Mussolini wanted to transform the main popular currents of culture into institutes of Fascist Culture. Il Duce wanted schools that were democratic in character to become party schools.
In the historical finds preserved by us, it is noted that the membership cards of those years bear a double mark: that of the University and that of the Fascio.
Even the teaching materials are marked and sponsored by the Institute of Fascist Culture which did its utmost in an almost scholastic conduct of the disciplines of fascist thought. Unfortunately, we also taught race semantics.
For a short time the University was also closed.

The 60s and 70s

As in life, our history is also made up of ups and downs, successes and defeats. The post-war years were a difficult period for our University. In the years of economic recovery, our University was still associated with Fascism, as a protagonist of the formation of the regime. All the other Italian universities proposed an exclusively social identity and had left-wing ideas, while our institute was still - and wrongly - pointed out as fascist.

The rebirth was seen only from the late seventies, thanks to the contribution of the esteemed Augusta Bassi in Lagostena, called Tina.
Tina promoted intense collaborations, thanks to which, in 1979, the Università Popolare di Milano was born, not part of our group except for collaborations.
Tina demonstrated her innate talent until she reached the position of President and Rector Magnifico.

Augusta Lagostena Bassi, detta Tina
Augusta Lagostena Bassi, detta Tina

Augusta Lagostena Bassi called Tina


Tina Lagostena Bassi was President and Rector of the Università Popolare degli Studi di Milano.

An Italian lawyer and politician, Tina became known in Italian courts as one of the leading and fiercest lawyers defending women's rights. In this regard, famous for having defended the rights of Donatella Colasanti against Angelo Izzo in the trial on the Circeo Massacre.
Famous are his harangues in which, in dry terms, he described the violence suffered by his clients, thus breaking a wall of silence that existed both in society and in the world of courts on the issue of sexual violence.
She was also one of the founders of Telefono Rosa.
She was a member of the Justice Commission of the Chamber of Deputies during the XII legislature and in 1996 she promoted the law against sexual violence.
From 1994 to 1995 he was also a member of the European Community's equal opportunities group.

The 80s and the turning point of CNUPI

In 1982, Prof. Ottavio Ferulano founded the C.N.U.P.I, National Confederation of Italian Popular Universities. Founding members of this initiative were the ancient Popular Universities, full of history and experience, although often vital to launch themselves towards challenges and novelties of the future.

Almost ten years later, in 1991, the Ministry of University and Scientific and Technological Research, by decree law (Official Gazette No. 203 of 30.8.91), recognized the legal personality of the C.N.U.P.I. Highlighting the topicality and seriousness of teaching and training now centenary.
Among the purposes of the statute and, even before historical, of the Popular Universities relating to the C.N.U.PI.: to offer to all people of all ages a service of cultural growth through courses related to different topics, update of exercises an activity and profession, encourage training and specialized preparation to enter the world of work.

Currently, all these Brands and Trademarks of the Milanese popular universities are registered with the Ministry of Economic Development (Italian Trademark and Patent Office) and regularly accredited for their historicity by the National Confederation of Italian Popular Universities, the CNUPI, and managed by the latter at the Università Popolare degli Studi di Milano.

1980 e svolta del CNUPI
Università oggi

The University today

Today the Università Popolare di Milano has maintained its historical vocation, looking even more towards internationality and collaboration between the various cultural institutions in the world, without geographical boundaries.

Given the Administrative Measure authorizing "International University" of the Minister of Education, University and Research, the Università Popolare degli Studi di Milano is authorized to issue academic qualifications with legal value in the Italian territory in line with the Lisbon Convention.

It is officially affiliated with the University of United Popular Nations, based in Ouagadougou, and is officially a partner of the State University of Ouagadougou, in the State of Burkina Faso, and the Bouaké State University, in the State of Côte d'Ivoire.

In addition, the Università Popolare degli Studi di Milano is registered in the National Research Register at the Ministry of Education, University and Research, Department for University, Higher Artistic, Musical and Coreutic Education and for Scientific and Technological Research.

Its international legal nature consists of several inter-university relationships including: UUPN, partner with the University of Ouagadougou and Bouaké, University of Havana (Cuba) and the State University of Lviv, Ukraine.

Mission beyond university education


The Università Popolare degli Studi di Milano wants to contribute to a "better world" by acting expressly in university education in "difficult" countries.

To this end, it collaborates with the University of United Popular Nations (UUPN) and WOFA, (Worldwide Organization Foundation for Africa, UK) for the creation of a new generation of women and men with an adequate university preparation, through various cultural cooperation actions.

Through university enrolment, you contribute, in part, to the support of new and better generations.

Mission oltre alla formazione universitaria

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