Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in History and Stories of the Contemporary World
Academyc year when starting the degree: 
Academyc year when helding the course: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (64 hours)

No special prerequisites are required.

Final Examination: 

Learning assessment method
The exam consists of an oral interview aimed at ascertaining the acquisition of knowledge and the correct understanding of the contents of the texts which must be studied in full: on the basic contents of the two reference texts, two questions will be formulated, with particular attention to the skills of selecting, in analyzing and linking of the topics as well as their chronological classification. In addition, knowledge of the topics covered in class will be requested, also summarized in the teaching material that will be made available on the e-learning website in the sections "Lessons", "Texts" and "Educational Material" (a question). The answers to these first three questions must give an at least sufficient outcome, so that the exam can continue with a question on the text of choice and a question of ascertaining the capacity of critical interdisciplinary analysis and autonomy of judgment on the main topics of the course . The final grade will take into account the accuracy and quality of the answers (70%), as well as the communication skills shown during the interview (10%) and the ability to adequately motivate statements, analyzes and judgments (20%).

Voto Finale

Objectives and learning outcomes:

The course intends to contextualize the various elements inherent in the history of scientific disciplines during the contemporary age, between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, in relation to the technological applications developed to date. The aim of the course is the reconstruction and critical understanding of a historical path aimed at comparing and interpreting the present, with particular attention to the different types and methods of narration and dissemination of science, in a multidisciplinary context that includes the stories of the contemporary world, modern philosophical reflections and geographical study on the relationship between man and the environment.

Expected results include:
• knowledge of the contents of scientific theories, investigation methods and the role of the main characters and institutions, placed in their historical periods and in an interdisciplinary context, with particular attention to the role of physical, natural and environmental sciences;
• knowledge of the main potential and risks of technological applications in contemporary society, particularly in the IT area;
• ability to select the topics covered, with independent judgment and critical sense, indicating and comparing the different interpretations of the authors of the reference texts,
• ability to frame and evaluate scientists, works, events and issues specific to science and technology in a well-defined historical context, with particular attention to the most significant chronological references;
• ability to undertake the study of a subject with an open approach to interdisciplinary interactions;

Content and Course Program:
The course introduces the main elements of the historical course of science and technology in the contemporary age, also through the reconstruction of "stories" that analyze particularly significant case studies related to the relationships between sciences, humanities, types of communication, manipulations, errors and falsifications. The relationships between sciences, techniques, technologies and industrial activities will be analyzed, as well as the relationships between sciences and politics, economy, religion, war, to reach the examination of the social role of science through museums, academies, universities and laboratories. The evolution of technologies will be analyzed in relation to scientific developments and the social, political, economic and cultural context.

The following topics will be covered:

General part: (approximately 32 hours)
- Introduction to the course and basic definitions
- The "two cultures" and the narrative of science: from Snow to Sokal
- Forms of communication and dissemination of science, popular science
- Lies of science and "false" science
- Developments and problems of contemporary technology
- Social Darwinism, eugenic, bioethics, "technological man"
- From techniques to technologies: tools, machines, inventions, patents
- Innovation technologies: applications, potential, innovations
- Robot and cybernautics: automation, information technology, artificial intelligence
- Modern science and "scientific revolutions"
- Disciplinary and professional development of the sciences
- Science, politics, power and society
- Science and religion: the question of authority
- The role of scientific societies, universities, laboratories and scientific museums
- Sciences, technologies and wars
- Research, development, innovation, organization and research funding
- Medicine, internationalization of health and development of health systems
- Earth, Environment and Cosmos sciences

Monographic part: (approximately 24 hours)
- Cases of twentieth-century stories of sciences
- Cases of contemporary stories of technologies

Seminars: (8 hours - teacher: Alberto Vianelli)
- Insights on some topics presented in the general part of the course and related to life sciences. In particular, topics related to the contemporary applications of genetic engineering up to the case of cloning, to issues related to genetically modified organisms, including in the human field, will be covered.


The study of the following two reference texts is required:
• Pietro GRECO, "La scienza e l’Europa. Il primo Novecento", Roma. L’Asino d’oro edizioni, 2018
• Pietro GRECO, "La scienza e l’Europa. Dal secondo dopoguerra a oggi", Roma. L’Asino d’oro edizioni, 2019

and one text to be chosen from

• Angelo GUERRAGGIO, Pietro NASTASI, "L’Italia degli scienziati. 150 anni di storia nazionale", Milano, Bruno Mondadori, 2010
• John CORNWELL, "Gli scienziati di Hitler. La scienza, la guerra e il patto con il diavolo", Milano, Garzanti, 2003
• Giorgio ISRAEL, "Il Fascismo e la razza. La scienza italiana e le politiche razziali del regime", Bologna, Il Mulino, 2010
• Roberto MAIOCCHI, "Scienza e Fascismo", Roma, Carocci, 2004
• Francesco CASSATA, "Eugenetica senza tabù. Usi e abusi di un concetto", Torino, Einaudi, 2015
• Cristiana PULCINELLI, "AIDS. Breve Storia di una malattia che ha cambiato il mondo", Roma, Carocci, 2018
• Robert JUNGK, "Gli apprendisti stregoni. Dilemmi e contraddizioni degli scienziati nucleari", Milano, PGreco, 2015 (ristampa di "Gli apprendisti stregoni. Storia degli scienziati atomici", Torino, Einaudi: tutte le edizioni Einaudi dal 1958 al 1982 possono essere utilizzate).
• Lanfranco BELLONI, "Da Fermi a Rubbia. Storia e politica di un successo mondiale della scienza italiana", Milano, Rizzoli, 1987
• Simone TURCHETTI, "Il caso Pontecorvo. Fisica nucleare, politica e servizi di sicurezza nella guerra fredda", Milano, Sironi, 2007
• Andrea CANDELA, "Storia ambientale dell’energia nucleare. Gli anni della contestazione", Milano - Udine, Mimesis, 2017
• Paolo MAGIONAMI, "Gli anni della Luna 1950-1982: l’epoca d’oro della corsa allo spazio", Milano, Springer Italia, 2009
• Giuseppe O. LONGO, "Il nuovo Golem: come il computer cambia la nostra cultura", Roma-Bari, Laterza, 20144 (disponibile anche ebook)
• Sam WILLIAMS, "Storia dell’intelligenza artificiale. La battaglia per la conquista della scienza del XXI secolo", Milano, Garzanti, 2003
• Luciano FLORIDI, "La quarta rivoluzione, come l’infosfera sta trasformando il mondo", Milano, Raffaello Cortina, 2017
• Luca TOMASSINI, "L’innovazione non chiede il permesso. Costruire il domani digitale", Milano, Franco Angeli, 2018.
• Massimo GAGGI, "Homo Premium. Come la tecnologia ci divide", Bari – Roma, Laterza, 2018
• Edoardo BONCINELLI, "Il posto della scienza, Realtà, miti, fantasmi", Milano, Mondadori, 2004
• Federico DI TROCCHIO, "Le bugie della scienza. Perché e come gli scienziati imbrogliano", Milano, Mondadori, 1993

NB: it is possible to propose to the teacher a text of your choice not present in this list, motivating the choice and the proposal with the intention of study in depth a particular topic linked to the course contents.

The complete study of the teaching material is also required (slides of the lessons and text files - in pdf and multimedia format) which will be made available on the e-learning website.


Teaching methods:
The course is divided into a cycle of 56 hours of lectures which will be accompanied by 8 hours of seminars distributed within the general part of the course in order to study in deep specific topics. Moreover, symposia, conferences and meetings of particular interest will be reported to the students for the topics covered in class. During the lectures and the seminars, interaction with the students will be constantly encouraged, through moments of discussion and shared analysis of the problems faced, in order to stimulate curiosity and intellectual vivacity, in addition to developing the capacity for critical analysis and an interdisciplinary approach.

Office hours: the lecturer receives the students at his office at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Sciences, Campus Bizzozero, Padiglione Rossi, via O. Rossi 9 in Varese (ground floor), on Fridays from 18.00 to 19.00, except for suspensions and possible cancellations indicated on the website (please always check this web page before to go to the meet the lecturer).