Established in 1240, the University of Siena is one of the oldest universities in Italy. With around 20,000 students and 15 Departments, the University ranks consistently at the top of national higher education rankings and is usually assigned a high international ranking by leading publications such as the QS and Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Most recently, the Censis-Repubblica annual publication ranked the University of Siena 2nd among medium-sized universities in Italy, with the second highest mark of all ranked institutions. As of 2016, the University is affiliated with a vast number of international networks, including the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), the Coimbra Group, the International Association of Universities (IAU), the International Research University Network (IRUN), and the Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED).
The University has a long-standing tradition of sustainability studies, a tradition which is reflected today by the presence of several research groups and individual researchers orienting their activities on the issue of sustainable development in areas including environmental economics, business economics, physical and environmental chemistry, ecology, environmental geography, and international law. In recent years, the University has encouraged these different areas of expertise to increase collaboration and foster interdisciplinary research and teaching. In addition, the University has become a member institution of Copernicus Alliance, the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), and most notably the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), serving as its Regional Centre for the Mediterranean Region.
Since 2014, the University of Siena has been leading the activities of PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterraneran Area), an intergovernmental effort to improve Euro-Mediterranean research cooperation on sustainable food systems and water resources.