Society, media and modern sciences

Degree course: 
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (64 hours)

All courses offered during the BA program (particularly those related to the history and communication of science) will represent a key conceptual basis for dealing with the topics taught in the course.

Final Examination: 

The final exam will be subdivided into a written test and an oral test, both aimed at making sure that the needed knowledge and skills have been acquired.
The 1 hour and 15' long written test will be composed of 6 questions (from 0 to 4 points each), all of which are intended to assessing the students' knowledge of the PowerPoint slides shown during classes.
Those who gain a minimum of 14 points in the written test will be having access to the oral, during which students will be asked two questions (maximum 6 points overall) based on the exam's textbooks. The final grade will represent the combination of the grades obtained during the written and oral tests, respectively.

Voto Finale

The course is aimed at providing students with a broad conceptual framework about the relations between science and the media, as well as the social implications of scientific research and its most relevant outcomes.
Another major goal is to offer critical tools for analyzing and interpreting the media representation of newsworthy scientific topics. Students will have a chance to gain practical knowledge necessary to move the first steps into science communication at the institutional level, as well as in newspaper press-rooms and museums.
Learning objectives will be:
- To gain knowledge of basic science terminology in relation to climate risks, geo-environmental hazards, biotechnology, nutrition and its health implications;
- To become able to understand and discuss the social and media implications of the above scientific issues;
- To acquire the ability to start working as a freelance journalist/science communicator.
The expected learning outcomes are fully consistent with the overall purposes of the MA in Communication Studies.

The course is broken down into a first section (24 hours) dedicated to the fundamentals of science communication, and a second, case-study based one.
The first section will be focused on:
a. History and evolution of science communication from the 1700s until today;
b. Background on the main channels of science communications: the print media, TV networks, magazines, science museums, the social media;
c. Pseudoscience and fake news;
d. Facts and news. Reporting, interviewing, investigative journalism.
The second section of the course (30 hours) will be centered on a few examples aimed at presenting different modes of communicating science, as well as fostering discussion about scientific issues and practices which are particularly relevant in terms of their potential social and ethical impacts:
- The Chernoby nuclear disaster (1986) and its coverage by the italian media;
- Climate change and media coverage;
- The clash between science and the "no-vax" community in Italy;
- The stamina methodology: scientific evidence and media coverage;
- Movies and science. Critical analysis of movies centered on science topics: hydrogeological hazard (“Vajont”); climate change (“An inconvenient truth”, “Before the Flood”); astrophysics (“The theory of everything”); space exploration (“Interstellar”; First Man), industrial risks (“Erin Brockovich”).

As detailed hereunder, the lessons will be integrated by 10 hours dedicated to the production of science communication essays, centred on the topics dealt with during the course.

For students who will be following classes:
1. Slides uploaded on the e-learning site at the end of the course.
2. F. Pasquaré Mariotto, A. Tibaldi. "Terra senza tregua", MIMESIS Edizioni, Milano, 2019.
3. S. Bencivelli, F.P. De Ceglia. "Comunicare la scienza", Carocci, Roma, 2013.
For students who won’t be following classes:
1. Slides uploaded on the e-learning site at the end of the course.
2. F. Pasquaré Mariotto, A. Tibaldi. "Terra senza tregua", MIMESIS Edizioni, Milano, 2019.
3. L. Mercalli, A. Goria. "Clima bene comune", Bruno Mondadori, Milano, 2013.

Throught he combination of lessons and tutorial activities (10 hours), students will be provided with specific guidelines to gathering scientific information from institutional websites and the available literature; basic techniques for writing short essays dealing with environmental risks and disasters will also be taught.

Office hours
Appointment, upon email request, during breaks and at the end of each class.
E-mail address: