Mobility and the Humanities

The Department of Historical and Geographic Sciences and the Ancient World (DiSSGeA) has been selected by ANVUR (Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione della Ricerca - Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of the University and Research Systems) as Department of Excellence for the period 2018-2022. Thanks to this achievement, DiSSGeA will receive 6,075,000 € from the Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research (MIUR) for strengthening research activities, developing excellent teaching methods and enhancing its international profile.

Combining mobility studies and humanities, we will boost the Department activities in the coming years. DiSSGeA will become a research centre specialized in the study of “mobility”, intended as movement of people, objects, texts, ideas and information, both in space and time.

Research activities will be supported by the recruitment of 4 new Academic Staff Members (professors and researchers), as well as through the development of 2 new research infrastructures: a Digital Laboratory for Mobility Research (MOBILAB) for mobility study in the humanities, and a Centre for Advanced Studies in Mobility and the Humanities.

The Project will also include a series of initiatives fostering excellence in education activities. A new curriculum for Master Degree programs, scholarships and study prizes for students with an outstanding academic career, additional funding for Erasmus+ outgoing mobility, scholarships for PhD and post-doc research on mobility topics, the invitation of world-renowned visiting scholars. Such initiatives will contribute in training new generations of humanists who know how to manage mobility-related topics with a high degree of awareness.

Furthermore, mobility study will allow the Department DiSSGeA to deal with nowadays urgent problems and with topics of strong impact on the socio-economic context

The opening of a dialogue between the University and the non-academic world (public and private actors and the third sector), the implementation of dissemination activities, networking with local stakeholders and life-long learning, public engagement actions and spin-off initiatives are some of the strategies that will be implemented.



The scientific scope of the project is to contribute to a significative advance in mobility study, intended as movement of people, objects, texts, ideas and information in the past and present societies.

In the last twenty years, the interest in mobility, stimulated by the changes in contemporary society, has affected the main research areas of the humanities: from “spatial turn” to the study of globalization’s networks and phenomena. At the Department DiSSGeA, the study of movement processes is central for various research topics.

Nevertheless, new potential has been arising for the study of “mobility” in recent times. Thanks to the availability of an ever-increasing amount of data, to a multifaceted concept of mobility, as well as to convergence between humanities and social sciences, today we are able to bring together in a single study program the multiplicity of movement-related phenomena, from transnational connections to the exchange of ideas and goods.

This approach will help us in overcoming the traditional paradigm that read past and present as static entities developing independently one from the other. The combination of historiographical and philological, geographic and anthropological methods, with a constant reference to economic and legal aspects, will allow us to understand the dynamism of human societies and to reconstruct their contexts and practices, at local and global level.

Specific scientific goals will be achieved in the following areas:

 A) Mobility study methodologies. This field of investigation aims to develop new mobility study methodologies and to make the Department DiSSGeA a landmark for the scientific landscape of humanities. The approach will be both quantitative (data mining and big-data analysis, geo-referencing and returns in GIS and webGIS) and qualitative (comparative textual analysis, thematic reconstruction of networks, mobile ethnography, creative methods, multisite fieldwork, use of mobile digital devices). The aim is to introduce new approaches to mobility studies that can be used in other national and international research centers.

 B) Mobility phenomena. This area will contribute to the rethinking of the mobility phenomena. Such phenomena are not limited to transport or today’s migratory issues, but they also include, among others, movement of knowledge and political cultures; movement and translation of books and textual tradition; landscape mobility practices; movement of scientific collections.

 C) Mobility repercussions on the social sphere. This area aims at understanding and interpreting the social, cultural, political and economic changes triggered by mobility phenomena (of people, skills, ideas, goods, etc.). In such framework, the synergy between the different disciplines within DiSSGeA will allow, on one hand, to contextualize the impact of mobility phenomena in the contemporary world and, on the other, to study the profound dynamism od societies in all historical periods.

Research Infrastructures

In order to support the research activities and the international attractiveness of the Department DiSSGeA, 2 new research infrastructures will be established: 

A) The Centre for Advanced Studies in Mobility and the Humanities. It will be a tool allowing the exploitation of this new research area potential, providing it with adequate organizational support. The Centre aims at stimulating collaboration around new basic and interdisciplinary research, consolidating the international standing of DiSSGeA, stimulating its attractiveness also for young researchers, as well as clearly identifying its scientific mission as a Department of Excellence.

B) The Digital Laboratory for Mobility Research (MOBILAB). It aims at addressing the need to manage large amounts of data in order to study mobility and its major issues. The purpose is to develop new methodologies and research tools for a conceptual advance in mobility studies, not simply using IT in humanities as a mere instrument. It also aims at building a digital archive to make research data and results available to researchers and students, in order to overcome the main limit of most project in “digital humanities”.


During the 5 years of project life, the Department DiSSGeA will design advance teaching in order to support the education and cultural growth of students, PhD students and post-docs in the topics related to mobility and the humanities. It is important to develop new professional figures, not limited to Academia, equipped with basic skills allowing them to deal with some of nowadays’ most pressing issues, such as migration, global market, transnational urbanity and information management, including digital information.

An interdisciplinary humanistic education at international level, also with inter-sectoral experiences, is fundamental to face the current difficult labor market.

On that regard, the following initiatives will be activated/provided:

  • PhD scholarships and post-doc research grants to carry out original research in the areas of the project’s topics;
  • a dedicated "Visiting Professor" program;
  • scholarships and study prizes for students enrolled in the Department DiSSGeA Master Degrees;
  • supplementary funding for Erasmus+ outgoing mobility;
  • new Courses developed within the Department DiSSGeA Master Degrees.


In this section, you can find the announcements related to the Department of Excellence project (“Visiting Professor”, recruitment of professors, researchers, post-docs, etc.).

International Partners

Centre for the GeoHumanities (Royal Holloway University of London)
UCL Centre for Trasnational History
Research Centre the Foundation of Modernity (LMU - Munich)
Centre for Digital Humanities, University of South Carolina
Commodity Frontiers Initiative (Ghent-Harvard-IISH)
King's College London, History Department


Scientific responsible person of the project: Gianluigi Baldo, Director of the Department DiSSGeA.
The monitoring of the project is ensured by:

  • an internal Steering Committee, composed by Marco Bertilorenzi, Andrea Caracausi, Matteo Millan, Paola Molino, Tania Rossetto;
  • an international Advisory Board, appointed within the first 6 months of the project.