SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in History and Stories of the Contemporary World
Academyc year when starting the degree: 
2019/2020
Year: 
2
Academyc year when helding the course: 
2020/2021
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Language: 
Italian
Credits: 
8
Period: 
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
64
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (64 hours)
Requirements: 

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Final Examination: 
Orale

The exam is an oral interview, which aims at assessing the knowledge of the main topics discussed in the class and included in the reference books. The interview includes - at least - one question on each reference book and - at least - one question on the learning material uploaded to the e-learning platform.
The grade (out of thirty) is formulated on the basis of:
- accuracy of answers (70%),
- language skills and argumentative capacity (15%),
- critical analysis skills (15%).

Assessment: 
Voto Finale

The contemporary age reveals a crucial “ambiguity”: the «paradox» of a historical period which, more than any other, is heavily dependent on science but, at the same time, is less at ease with science’s achievements and their societal, political, and environmental consequences. Twentieth century science and technology seem to stand out for those public controversies that they have frequently triggered. By and large, their development - in the contemporary age - seems to deal with the historical category of “social struggle”, in spite of society has become tightly dependent on sciences. Moreover, it is undoubtedly clear that environmental issues and the "climate crisis" are among the greatest challenges of the 21st century.
The course "Science and Society" aims at increasing students’ knowledge of those key historical factors that have shaped the complex relationship between "history, environment, science and society" from the early 20th century up to the present. The emphasis will be laid on some emblematic “conflict-based” case studies and on the strong connection between "environment, mass media, art and literature". The student will be able to gain knowledge and methodological tools which can be useful to better understand some "science and technology topics" of high impact on the contemporary society, such as - for instance - those about environmental issues.

Learning outcomes:
- knowledge of some main issues both of the contemporary debate about ecology/environment and of those social as well as societal conflicts that it can trigger;
- knowledge of some methodologies of research in history and social sciences;
- ability to gain a basic scientific knowledge (in an interdisciplinary perspective) and learning of the corresponding "storytelling strategies";
- ability to distinguish the main differences between science and pseudoscience;
- public speaking ability, communication and analytical skills.

The course is divided into three main parts and it deals with the following topics.

GENERAL PART (about 18 hours)
- Topics and problems of the history of imagery and environmental history;
- Images of science and the environment in Twentieth-century culture;
- History of the environmental movements: from the anti-nuke protests to the "Fridays for Future" (environmentalism and pacifism);
- Analysis of some main environmental struggles of the 20th century (the issue of the "environmental justice")
- Interactions between science, environment, arts and mass media;
- Environmentalism and science between urban legends and fake news;
- Analysis of some case studies, with an emphasis on some currently relevant environmental issues, such as climate change, pollution, waste.

SINGLE SUBJECT COURSE (about 30 hours)
This part of the course analyses the narrative relationship between ecology/nature and literature in the 20th century, especially focusing the class on some works by Italo Calvino, Primo Levi, Rachel Carson (biologist and writer), and John Steinbeck (Nobel Laureate for Literature in 1962, and "storyteller" of the "Dust Bowl", one of the first environmental disasters of the 20th century).
In particular:
- Italo Calvino
"La nuvola di smog",
"La formica argentina",
"La speculazione edilizia",
"Le città invisibili";
- Primo Levi
"Vizio di forma";
- Rachel Carson
"Silent spring";
- John Steinbeck
"The Grapes of Wrath"

SEMINARS AND LAB. (about 16 hours)
Some seminars and workshops are scheduled. They will be given by the teacher and they will be focused on the topic: "Nature writing: the story of nature by means of creative writing and storytelling".

The contemporary age reveals a crucial “ambiguity”: the «paradox» of a historical period which, more than any other, is heavily dependent on science but, at the same time, is less at ease with science’s achievements and their societal, political, and environmental consequences. Twentieth century science and technology seem to stand out for those public controversies that they have frequently triggered. By and large, their development - in the contemporary age - seems to deal with the historical category of “social struggle”, in spite of society has become tightly dependent on sciences. Moreover, it is undoubtedly clear that environmental issues and the "climate crisis" are among the greatest challenges of the 21st century.
The course "Science and Society" aims at increasing students’ knowledge of those key historical factors that have shaped the complex relationship between "history, environment, science and society" from the early 20th century up to the present. The emphasis will be laid on some emblematic “conflict-based” case studies and on the strong connection between "environment, mass media, art and literature". The student will be able to gain knowledge and methodological tools which can be useful to better understand some "science and technology topics" of high impact on the contemporary society, such as - for instance - those about environmental issues.

Learning outcomes:
- knowledge of some main issues both of the contemporary debate about ecology/environment and of those social as well as societal conflicts that it can trigger;
- knowledge of some methodologies of research in history and social sciences;
- ability to gain a basic scientific knowledge (in an interdisciplinary perspective) and learning of the corresponding "storytelling strategies";
- ability to discern the main differences between science and pseudoscience;
- public speaking ability, communication and analytical skills.

There is no prerequisite for this course.

The course is divided into three main parts and it deals with the following topics.

GENERAL PART (about 18 hours)
- Topics and problems of the history of imagery and environmental history;
- Images of science and the environment in Twentieth-century culture;
- History of the environmental movements: from the anti-nuke protests to the "Fridays for Future" (environmentalism and pacifism);
- Analysis of some main environmental struggles of the 20th century (the issue of the "environmental justice")
- Interactions between science, environment, arts and mass media;
- Environmentalism and science between urban legends and fake news;
- Analysis of some case studies, with an emphasis on some currently relevant environmental issues, such as climate change, pollution, waste.

SINGLE SUBJECT COURSE (about 30 hours)
This part of the course analyses the narrative relationship between ecology/nature and literature in the 20th century, especially focusing the class on some works by Italo Calvino, Primo Levi, Rachel Carson (biologist and writer), and John Steinbeck (Nobel Laureate for Literature in 1962, and "storyteller" of the "Dust Bowl", one of the first environmental disasters of the 20th century).
In particular:
- Italo Calvino
"La nuvola di smog",
"La formica argentina",
"La speculazione edilizia",
"Le città invisibili";
- Primo Levi
"Vizio di forma";
- Rachel Carson
"Silent spring";
- John Steinbeck
"The Grapes of Wrath"

SEMINARS AND LAB. (about 16 hours)
Some seminars and workshops are scheduled. They will be given by the teacher and they will be focused on the topic: "Nature writing: the story of nature by means of creative writing and storytelling".

The course is scheduled in 48 hours of lectures and about 16 hours of seminars and workshops. Students will be also encouraged to interact each other and with the teacher during the class. Seminars may be also arranged in order to delve more deeply into some key topics.

The exam is an oral interview, which aims at assessing the knowledge of t

1. The complete study of the following book is required:

Andrea Candela, "Dal sogno degli alchimisti agli incubi di Frankenstein. La scienza e il suo immaginario nei mass media", FrancoAngeli, Milano 2013;

2. and then a book to be chosen between:

- Piero Bevilacqua, "La Terra è finita. Breve storia dell'ambiente", Laterza, Roma-Bari 2006;
- Niccolò Scaffai, "Letteratura e ecologia. Forme e temi di una relazione narrativa", Carocci, Roma 2017;
- Francesco Cassata, "Fantascienza? Lezioni Primo Levi", Einaudi, Torino 2016;
- Massimo Bucciantini, "Italo Calvino e la scienza. Gli alfabeti del mondo", Donzelli, Roma 2007.

3. It is also required the reading of a novel to be chosen between:

- Italo Calvino, "La nuvola di smog" (1958) and "La formica argentina" (1952) [in any edition];
- Italo Calvino, "La speculazione edilizia" (1957) [in any edition];
- Primo Levi, "Vizio di forma" (1971) [in any edition].

4. In the end, it is required the study of the learning material which will be uploaded to the e-learning platform.

Convenzionale

The course is scheduled in 48 hours of lectures and about 16 hours of seminars and workshops. Students will be also encouraged to interact each other and with the teacher during the class. Seminars may be also arranged in order to delve more deeply into some key topics.

The teacher receives by appointment, that can be booked by e-mail. Any request for explanations about the lectures and books may be also issued at the end of each lesson.
E-mail: a.candela@uninsubria.it

Professors