Following several European initiatives, some scholars of the University of Turin founded the first Università Popolare in Italy in 1900. It was the time when “the promotion of scientific and literary culture of the people” was a pressing need, shared by secular organizations and academicism.
Even if the socialist commitment to this activity was strong, the socialists exhorted universities not to embrace any political colour and to be open to everybody and to become a study training-ground for everyone.
The activity of the Università Popolare di Torino was carried on until the early ‘30s when the National Fascist Institute of Culture took its place.
A new birth occurred in 1946 thanks to Donato Bachi, the only founder still living.
The restart of the activity was organized with the support of the Rector Mario Allara who authorized the use of rooms at Facoltà di Scienze Matematiche e Fisiche at 10, Carlo Alberto street. The building – afterwards called Palazzo Campana – still hosts most of the courses; others are held in the rooms at ITIS “A. Avogadro”.
During the last 25 years the success of the activity has constantly increased. In 2006 the Università Popolare di Turin became an NPO Foundation.
At the moment it has the highest number of students in Italy for Life-long Learning.