Leading academic institutions, governments, and funders of research across the world have spent the last few decades fretting publicly about the need for scientists and research organisations to engage more widely with the public and be open about their research. Within a frame of growing universities competition and marketisation, global literature asserts that the role of public communication has changed from a virtue to a duty for scientists in many countries and disciplines. However, knowledge about what research institutions are doing and what factors drive their “going public” is still very limited. An attempt to examine the public engagement efforts at the departmental level has been made with a recent cross-national study of thousands of research institutes in different countries. Notwithstanding this, the public communication of university departments within the Italian academic context is still poorly understood. The present thesis aims to investigate cultures of science communication at the level of research institutes and to define key concepts of public communication of Italian Departments of Earth Sciences. By focusing on a very narrow and complete sample of research institutes in Italy (n = 8, 100% response rate), I investigate how public engagement varies in intensity, type of activities and target audiences across departments. Three benchmark findings emerge: i) public communication remains far from being fully instituted and taken-for-granted across research institutes; ii) variation in communication is associated with institutional commitment to public communication, although culture and strategy, rather than available funding, seems to play a key role; iii) capacity building and commitment of resources are generally increasing. Overall, data point to a growing national phenomenon and a potential change in the culture of Italian academic institutions to open up their research to unspecific publics at the departmental level, by boosting their commitment in terms of both funding and communication staff. Future research should monitor this evolution by investigating the implications of this professionalisation for science communication and the narratives that emerge from research institutes. Due to the limited size of the sample investigated, a robust statistical analysis was not possible. Thus, to check whether findings presented here also occur in other types of research units, and to observe the future evolution of public communication at the departmental level of Italian universities, further investigation is needed.

Outreach and public engagement of Italian Departments of Earth Sciences / Anzolini, Chiara. - (2022 Feb 23).

Outreach and public engagement of Italian Departments of Earth Sciences

Anzolini, Chiara
2022

Abstract

Leading academic institutions, governments, and funders of research across the world have spent the last few decades fretting publicly about the need for scientists and research organisations to engage more widely with the public and be open about their research. Within a frame of growing universities competition and marketisation, global literature asserts that the role of public communication has changed from a virtue to a duty for scientists in many countries and disciplines. However, knowledge about what research institutions are doing and what factors drive their “going public” is still very limited. An attempt to examine the public engagement efforts at the departmental level has been made with a recent cross-national study of thousands of research institutes in different countries. Notwithstanding this, the public communication of university departments within the Italian academic context is still poorly understood. The present thesis aims to investigate cultures of science communication at the level of research institutes and to define key concepts of public communication of Italian Departments of Earth Sciences. By focusing on a very narrow and complete sample of research institutes in Italy (n = 8, 100% response rate), I investigate how public engagement varies in intensity, type of activities and target audiences across departments. Three benchmark findings emerge: i) public communication remains far from being fully instituted and taken-for-granted across research institutes; ii) variation in communication is associated with institutional commitment to public communication, although culture and strategy, rather than available funding, seems to play a key role; iii) capacity building and commitment of resources are generally increasing. Overall, data point to a growing national phenomenon and a potential change in the culture of Italian academic institutions to open up their research to unspecific publics at the departmental level, by boosting their commitment in terms of both funding and communication staff. Future research should monitor this evolution by investigating the implications of this professionalisation for science communication and the narratives that emerge from research institutes. Due to the limited size of the sample investigated, a robust statistical analysis was not possible. Thus, to check whether findings presented here also occur in other types of research units, and to observe the future evolution of public communication at the departmental level of Italian universities, further investigation is needed.
2020/2021
Non assegn
Pitrelli, Domenico
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11767/126809
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