Development Cooperation is of significant importance in the areas of teaching, research and the “third mission” initiatives implemented by the University of Trento. Activities related to development cooperation are valuable opportunities for the training of young people, for scientific research linked to action and for territorial enhancement.

The role of universities in sustainable development cooperation, human rights and peace building is explicitly stipulated in Law 125/14, which regulates and guides Italian development cooperation, and is recognized as an "integral and qualifying part of Italy's foreign policy." 

In this context, the work of UniTrento in development cooperation is carried out through partnerships with other universities, non-profit associations and NGOs, local authorities, businesses, government institutions and international organizations according to their areas of expertise.

UniTrento seeks to be aware of the changes taking place in the development cooperation sector in order to interpret its role in terms of sharing knowledge and sustainability best practices, in line with the indicators of the international objectives contained in the UN 2030 Agenda.

At an organizational level, development cooperation consists of coordination among professors from different academic areas (Departments and Centers) and support from the International Relations Division as part of the strategic university project UNITN4D (UniTrento for Development).

Teaching and Training

On a strategic level, the teaching and training activities at UniTrento in the area of development cooperation are aimed at strengthening both specific and transversal skills for the promotion of sustainable human development. The activities have a significant international dimension because they are aimed at students from all over the world, and because they focus on knowledge and skills relevant to international development cooperation.
On an operational level, the activities are related to:

  • Academic programs that foster the acquisition of skills that are considered useful to work in international development cooperation, which are of growing importance even in contexts identified as “industrialized” or "high-income." This also includes the integration of sustainability themes and education for global citizenship into university curricula.
  • Support for incoming international student mobility of from “emerging countries” or those defined as "low-income" in international classifications. This is also carried out through partnership programs with other universities.
  • The implementation of training projects and inter-academic mobility with partner countries, which are aimed at institutional strengthening (capacity building) at the local, national and international level. In addition, this includes the transfer of knowledge and application of best practices connected sustainable development with the objective of empowerment.


At a strategic level, scientific research for development aims to support inclusive and sustainable human development models, which are appropriate to the contexts and are able to promote socio-economic and territorial processes with the goal of increasing autonomy and reducing dependencies. From this perspective, the innovative elements of research focus on the understanding of emerging phenomena, the identification of new approaches and methods of cooperation in multiple sectors and the innovative applications of existing approaches in new contexts.

On an operational level, the research activities at UniTrento related to development cooperation consist of:

  • The study of multidimensional phenomena (socio-economic, environmental, cultural, political and technological) that interact with the dynamics of local development, also focusing on factors and trends on a larger scale (national, global).
  • Development of techniques, intervention and design methodologies appropriate to the cooperation development contexts and projects in which UniTrento participates and their direct application when possible. 
  • Support for the drafting of programs, guidelines and policies related to development cooperation at various levels (local, national, international) in areas of specific competence.

Interaction with Territories and Institutions (Third Mission)

The so-called "third mission" of the university includes a wide range of activities related to the interactions of the academic world with the outside world, in particular with territories and their institutions.
At the local level, since 2008 UniTrento has been a founding member of the CCI (Center for International Cooperation of Trento), with which it shares the strategic goal of enhancing the international training of its students and graduates starting with development cooperation. 

On an operational level, UniTrento shares with the CCI training and planning activities aimed at study and research in methods, approaches and territorial dynamics with a focus on geographic areas of particular interest such as the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Mediterranean.

On a national level, UniTrento is the founder and current coordinator (2020 - 2022) of the University Coordination for Development Cooperation (CUCS), one of the university networks promoted by the CRUI (Conference of Rectors of Italian Universities), with the strategic objectives to promote development cooperation within universities and to enhance synergies between universities in this area.
At the local, national and international level, UniTrento participates in various projects with territorial impacts in synergy with the other development cooperation actors: governmental and non-governmental organizations; civil society; local associations; private profit and non-profit organizations; international organizations.