Science communication. It’s important to do it right and it’s important to communicate it properly. The academic world is both a producer of scientific research and a trustworthy source of dissemination. Who are the players that influence all of this? What are the target audiences we are referring to and which tools and languages are best for the right purposes? And moreover: how to interact both with scientists and the media?
Scientific research topics and results are used as contents for public events and communication products. Which cautions and skills do we have to communicate science facts, controversial issues on science research in these contexts? The institutions may develop other strategies to engage directly with the public, for example through citizen science programmes, science festivals, open days, etc.
Here we specifically explore different communication tools (used in science communication and in communication at large). What are the most interesting case studies? What are the most interesting and the worst experiences?
Use (and abuse) of scientific output
How do universities communicate scientific contents? This broad topic covers many areas of interest and expertise inside the institutions. First, how do you gather information about the scientific results produced by your own institution? Developing strategies to facilitate the interaction between communication staff and the scientists is of vital importance. Training scientists to communicate with the media and the public is a plus.
Universities also have role of growing importance in the public debate regarding scientific issues, such as energy, public health, global warming, etc.
Communicating scientific results implies a great load of responsibility. For example, fact-checking practices should be part of the communication officers’ daily work routine.
Trieste has been selected as the European City of Science 2020 by EuroScience, the international organisation for the support and promotion of science and technology in Europe.
This important result is indeed a recognition of the ever-growing importance of the city’s science system, which today is one of the most prominent in Europe.
A large number of Research Institutes are based in Trieste, including two Universities, three UN Research Institutes, a Science and Technology Park (with its Synchrotron Light Source and other high-tech infrastructures), as well as other National Research Institutes.
The “science renaissance” of Trieste can be traced back to the 1960s, when a handful of international scientists led by the physicists Paolo Budinich and Abdus Salam (the latter would later be awarded with the Nobel Prize in 1979) succeeded in creating an international integrated research system that has no equal in Europe.
Budinch and Salam succeeded in their efforts thanks to the geopolitical, cultural and economic contingencies but also because the city already had a long history of scientific research. This tradition has its origins in the economic and cultural wealth developed mainly at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Trieste has long been the main commercial port of the Hapsburg Empire (benefiting from a very favourable customs regime). This condition, starting from the beginning of the eighteenth century on, has fueled an extraordinary economic growth. This, together with a secular attitude and religious tolerance, gave way to the rise of a multicultural and multiethnic society, the salt of modern scientific development.