Accepted Paper:

Informal science communication: researchers and citizens travelling through ecosystems and biodiversity  


Alessandra Pugnetti (Institute of Marine Sciences - Italy)
Alba L'Astorina (CNR Italian National Research Council)

Paper short abstract:

A group of Italian ecologists in 2015 undertook a itinerant tour along three naturalistic trails, aiming to transfer and share the research results among citizens. We report results of this informal science communication that generated change in participants, stimulating critical considerations

Paper long abstract:

The Authors describe and discuss a case study of informal public science communication, focussing on the relevance for and impact on the researchers that conceived and practically realized it. In 2015 Italian ecologists, active in long-term ecological research (LTER-Italy) and in biodiversity study (LifeWatch-Italy) started a process of informal public science communication, through walking and cycling together with citizens along itineraries connecting a number of LTER-Italy sites. The trails represented a sort of "Via Francigena" of ecological research and aimed at offering citizens an opportunity to familiarize with the components and conditions of Italian ecosystems, from the sea to alpine tundra.

This experience was conceived as a tool to transfer and share the research results among a large public, by creating a physical and visible movement of researchers towards and with citizens, relying as well on the slow times of walking that allow to create an intimate link with people and nature.

Actually the trails produced unexpected and unforeseen effects on the scientists, evidencing the need of a cultural shift: they generated mutual learning by public and scientists and induced profound changes, vivid debates and critical considerations among researchers themselves, about some relevant aspects and needs of science communication. Qualitative evaluations and perspectives of this experience are reported here, also through short video interviews to the scientists involved, evidencing their critical considerations about this experience.

Panel T032
Science Communication