94332 - Journalism and Scientific Dissemination

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students have an advanced knowledge of the main issues concerning the role of science and technology in contemporary society. They are able to discuss them effectively in oral and/or written form, with the appropriate terminology, also with reference to the relevant bibliography. They are capable of evaluating the different modalities of communication in the field of science, pseudoscience and fake news. They can write reviews, articles and essays for professional purposes.

Course contents

In a world where so many policy choices, nationally and globally, are related to scientific issues, the quality of information conveyed to the public and decision makers will play an increasingly important role. The objective of the course is to provide students with an overview of science journalism and the relationship between information, science and society. At the end of the course, students will have acquired knowledge about the evolution of science journalism to the present day, will have mastered its tools, will know how to analyze media coverage of events and controversies, and will have acquired useful elements for assessing the credibility of news. Finally, they will have learned the basic techniques for writing an article also in consideration of the readers to whom it is addressed.
- What are science journalism and science communication
- How to weigh sources: peer review, open access and preprint; press releases, interviews and fact-checking
- How to write a news story, a commentary, a longform
- Fake news, social media and mainstream media. Cognitive biases, polarization, and tribes
- Controversies, scientific consensus and false balance
- The perils of stereotyping, the evolution of linguistic sensitivity
- The pitfalls of risk communication, correlation and causation
- Case studies of good and bad information on hot topics, from the climate crisis to genome editing
- Disciplinary specialisms in science journalism
- Practice exercises: press review analysis and news writing


“A tactical guide to science journalism: lessons from the front lines”, Deborah Blum, Ashley Smart, Tom Zeller Jr, Oxford University Press, 2022;

“The climate book”, created by Greta Thunberg, Allen Lane 2022;

“E l’uomo creò l’uomo. CRISPR e la rivoluzione dell’editing genomico”, Anna Meldolesi, Bollati Boringhieri, 2021.

Teaching methods

Theoretical lectures and practice exercises in presence

Assessment methods

To prove the knowledge and skills learned, the student is expected to produce a written text about a topic covered in the course

Teaching tools

Powerpoint presentations, suggested readings, podcasts and videos on the topics covered

Office hours

See the website of Anna Meldolesi