Plenary session 4 – The art of communication

Friday 17 June, 8:45 – 9:45
@DEM, Eco A and Eco 5

Chair: Tiziano Distefano

The Art of Communication: when Knowledge is not enough

The challenges imposed by climate change and increasing inequality, call for dramatic structural shifts in our economies and drastic behavioural changes toward sustainable lifestyles. How do we effectively conceive these messages to common people? How to make the audience capable of distinguishing between “fake news” and reliable information? The last 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, assigned to the two campaigning journalists Ressa and Muratov, highlights the vital importance of an independent media to democracy because “Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda” (as declared by the Norwegian committee awarding the Prize). The same considerations also hold when media and journalists face and communicate issues related to environmental and social injustice. 

Rising movements that overlook the importance of preserving ecological systems (e.g., “Trumpism”), and even the existence of the current pandemic, show that false information could easily spread although not based on scientific evidence. On the other hand, the attempts by scientists to communicate their knowledge through an “objective” perspective, based on data and statistics, have proved to have little influence on the general public and policy making. Strikingly, the masses were brought to strike against the political fallacy of tackling climate change by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who has had the merit of translating the complex scientific language of IPCC reports into a simple, plain and effective language understandable to all, including the youngest generations. In general, the leader is not the one who has the most knowledge, but the one who can speak in a way capable of touching and shaping emotions: “there are no facts, only interpretations”. Here is where art and communication overlap and where we need to understand how to communicate scientific knowledge and increase people’s engagement to boost the rapid changes needed.

The guest speakers will offer both theoretical explanations and practical examples of how science could be built and disseminated to increase public engagement and public communication and to fill the gap between science, society, and politics.

Guest speakers

Giuseppe Pellegrini (Observa Science in Society, Italy)

Giuseppe Pellegrini is a sociologist. He teaches Innovation, Technology, and Society at the University of Trento. His main research interests are related to the study of science, technology, and social issues. In this area of investigation, he devoted specific attention to public engagement and public communication. He leads the Italian research team of the European project TRESCA studying the public perception of science and technology. He is the president of Observa Science in Society and a member of the Public Communication on Science and Technology network.

Edwige Pezzulli (INAF, Italy) 

Astrophysicist and science communicator. Edwige organizes educational laboratories, and workshops and collaborates with Mondadori Educational. She is an author for Superquark+ and RAI Cultura and has been awarded the national prize for young researchers GiovedìScienza 2019. Together with other 5 astrophysicists, she wrote a book for kids “Apri gli occhi al cielo” (Mondadori 2019). 

Francesco Suman (Il BO Live – Univ. of Padua, Italy)

Francesco Suman is a freelance science journalist, collaborating with a series of magazines, journals, and newspapers, such as Il Bo Live, Nature Italy, MicroMega, Il Tascabile, and Valigia Blu. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy of biology earned at the Department of Biology of the University of Padua in 2017. His training in philosophy of science brings him to explore the relationships between science and society, covering topics like climate change, energy transition, Covid-19 pandemics, biology and evolution, physics, technological innovation, research policy, fake news, and misinformation.

Sofia Belardinelli (Il BO Live – Univ. of Padua, Italy)

Sofia Belardinelli is a Ph.D. student in Environmental Ethics at the University of Naples ‘Federico II’. Her lines of research concern the philosophy of biology, environmental ethics, and studies on bio-cultural diversity. During her Ph.D., she is focusing on investigating the relationship between humans and non-human nature, exploring from the perspective of evolutionary biology and environmental ethics. She believes in the high social relevance of science dissemination. She writes for ‘Il BoLive’, the web magazine of the University of Padova, covering environmental and social issues and science news, and for the Italian cultural magazine ‘Micromega’. Sofia is passionate about literature and music; she enjoys the beauty of nature and loves photographing it.

Marta Tuninetti (Politecnico di Torino – DIATI, Italy)

Marta Tuninetti is an Assistant Professor at Politecnico di Torino, where she obtained her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering (2018). As a Research Scholar, she visited Princeton University (present) and the University College London (2017). She was a visiting Master student at the University of Virginia (2013). Her current research focuses on the Water-Food-Energy nexus through global and high-resolution modeling approaches. She convenes scientific panels at international conferences, and she is Associate Editor of the Journal of Hydrology. She is a Science Communicator, one of the creators of Water To Food (a scientific dissemination project), and the co-founder of WeSTEAM (an association for gender-based scientific dissemination).

Lucia Muñoz Sueiro (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology ICTA-UAB, Barcelona, Spain)

Lucía Muñoz Sueiro is a Ph.D. candidate with an FPU contract at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB). Her research is on traditional local knowledge aligned with degrowth, with an ethnographic approach in the Iberian Peninsula.

11:10 – 12:45
@DEM, Eco 5

Roundtable: The art of communication