Original Papers

What is at stake for scientists when communicating ecology? Insight from the informal communication initiative “Cammini LTER”


What is at stake for scientists when communicating ecology? This is the basic question tackled in this paper, that we explored through reflections about an initiative of informal communication of ecological research called “Cammini LTER”: itineraries connecting a number of sites belonging to the Italian Long-Term Ecological Research network (LTER-Italy). LTER-Italy ecologists walked and cycled together with citizens creating a physical and visible movement of researchers ‘towards’ and ‘with’ citizens, aiming at providing the public with the opportunity to get familiar with Italian ecosystems, from the sea to alpine tundra. We address here the debates and the critical considerations among researchers themselves, stimulated by the overall experience, with focus on some relevant issues pertaining science communication, and even research production, evidencing the need for a cultural shift, which go far beyond the national context and the LTER – Italy network. Using a participant observations approach, through researchers’ words used to describe - formally and informally - the experience, we report and comment here the main narratives emerged, showing different attitudes of LTER researchers in Cammini towards the society and the role of ecology in it. Relationship and knowledge exchange appear crucial for communicating ecology, which can thus become an opportunity for building new qualities of knowledge and for creating a shared civic culture, able to make all players feel mutual responsible and contribute to the solution of particular socio-ecological challenges.

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13135/2384-8677/2804


Barbiero, G. (2011) Biophilia and Gaia: Two Hypotheses for an Affective Ecology. Journal of Biourbanism 26 (1), 1-27

Barbiero, G. (2014) Affective Ecology for Sustainability. Visions for sustainability 1, 20-30.

Bickford, D., Posa, M. R. C. Qie, L., Campos-Arceiz, A. & Kudavidanage. E. P. (2012) Science communication for biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation 151, 74–76.

Buijs, A. E. & Elands, B. H. M. (2013) Does expertise matter? An in-depth understanding of people’s structure of thoughts on nature and its management implications. Biological Conservation 168, 184–191.

Christie, B., Beames, S. & Higgins, P. (2016) Context, culture and critical thinking: Scottish secondary school teachers’ and pupils’ experiences of outdoor learning. British Educational Research Journal 42(3), 417–437.

Criscuolo, L., Carrara, P., Oggioni, A., Pugnetti, A. & Antoninetti, M. (2018) Can VGI and Mobile Apps Support Long-Term Ecological Research? A Test in Remote Areas of the Alps. In G. Bordogna. and P. Carrara, P. (eds), Mobile Information Systems Leveraging Volunteered Geographic Information for Earth Observation, pp. 53-71, Springer.

Curtis, D. J. (2011) Using the arts to raise awareness and communicate environmental information in the extension context. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 17 (2), 181-194.

D’Alelio, D. (2016) The Mesothalassia Bike-Tour: (Re)Discovering Water by Riding With Scientists. Limnology and Oceanography Bullettin 25, 1-7.

Davies, S. R. (2008). Constructing Communication. Talking to Scientists About Talking to the Public. Science Communication 29 (4), 413-434.

Davies, S.R & Horst. M. (2016) Images, Spaces, and Emotions: Non-discursive Aspects of Science Communication. Science Communication: 159-185.

Dick, J. , Orenstein, D. E., Holzer, J. M., Wohner, C., Achard, A. L., Andrews, C., Avriel-Avni, N., Beja, P., Blond, N., Cabello, J., Chen, C., Díaz-Delgado, R., Giannakis, G. V., Gingrich, S., Izakovicova, Z., Krauze, K., Lamouroux, N., Leca, S., Melecis, V., Kertész, M., Mimikou, M., Niedrist, G., Piscart, C., Postolache, C., Psomas, A., Santos-Reis, M., Tappeiner, U., Vanderbilt, K. & Van Ryckegem, G. (2018) What is socio-ecological research delivering? A literature survey across 25 international LTSER platforms. The Science of the Total Environment 622–623, 1225–1240.

Einsiedel E. F. (2008) Public engagement and dialogue: a research review. In M. Bucchi, M. and B. Smart (eds). Handbook of public communication of science and technology: 173-184. London, UK: Routledge.

Felt, U. (2016) Associating citizens with the scientific process from the start. Euroscientist. Special Issue on RRI Implementations. 14/12/2016 Available at: https://www.euroscientist.com/public-engagement-in-research/

Fischer, A. & Young, J. C. (2007) Understanding mental constructs of biodiversity: Implications for biodiversity management and conservation. Biological Conservation 136, 271-282.

Flick, U. (2002) An introduction to qualitative research. London: Sage.

Folke, K., Jansson, A., Rockstrom, J., Olsson, P., Carpenter, S. R., Chapin III, F. S., Crepin, A-S., Daily, G., Danel, K., Ebbesson, J., Elmqvist, T., Galaz, V., Moberg, F., Nilsson, M., Osterblom, H., Elinor Ostrom, E., Persson, A., Peterson, G., Polasky, S., Steffen, W., Walker, B. & Westley, F. (2011). Reconnecting to the Biosphere. Ambio 40, 719–738.

Gray D. S. & Colucci-Gray L. (2018) Laying Down a Path in Walking: Student Teachers’ Emerging Ecological Identities. Environmental Education research, In press.

Groffman P. M., Stylinski, C., Nisbet, M. C., Duarte, C. M., Jordan, R., Burgin, A., Previtali, M. A., and Coloso, J. (2010) Restarting the conversation: challenges at the interface between ecology and society. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 8 (6), 284–291.

Guimarães Pereira Â. & S. Funtowicz (eds.) (2015) Science, Philosophy and Sustainability: The End of the Cartesian Dream - Routledge Explorations in Sustainability and Governance. Earthscan from Routledge.

Haberl H., Winiwarter, V., Andersson, K., Ayres, R. U., Boone, C., Castillo, A., Cunfer, G., Fischer-Kowalski, M., Freudenburg, W. R., Furman, E., Kaufmann, R., Krausmann, F., Langthaler, E., Lotze-Campen, H., Mirtl, M., Redman, C. L., Reenberg, A., Wardell, A., Warr, B. & Zechmeister, H. (2006) From LTER to LTSER: conceptualizing the socioeconomic dimension of long-term socioecological research. Ecology and Society 11 (2), 13.

Harding, S. (2008). Animate Earth. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green.

Jamieson, L. (2011). Intimacy as a Concept: Explaining Social Change in the Context of Globalisation or Another Form of Ethnocentricism? Sociological Research Online 16 (4), 15.

Koppman, S., Cain, S. L. & Leahey, E. (2015) The Joy of Science: Disciplinary Diversity in Emotional Accounts. Science, Technology, & Human Values 40 (1), 30-70.

L'Astorina A. (2011) Researchers as Communicators – A survey on the public engagement of Italian Cnr research institutions. In Valente A. (Ed ): Sharing science - Researchers’ ideas and practices of public communication. Scienza Express Edizioni, Milano, ISBN 978-88-96973-32-5.

L’Astorina A., Cerbara, L., Valente, A. & Avveduto, S. (2013) Practices and images of public communication by Italian scientists over the years, Critical Perspectives on Making Science Public, Nottingham 22-23 luglio 2013, Book of selected papers: 75-80.

Latour, B. (1991) The Impact of Science Studies on Political Philosophy. Science, Technology, & Human Values 1 (1), 3-19.

Le Breton, D. (2000) Eloge de la marche. Editions Métailé. ISBN 2-86424-351-2

Lévy-Leblond, J.M. (1992) About misunderstandings about misunderstandings. Public Understanding of Science 1 (1), 17-21.

Lubchenko, J. (1998) Entering the century of the environment: a new social contract for science. Science 279, 491-497.

Mauz, I., Peltola, T., Granjou, C., van Bommel, S. & Buijs, A. (2012) How scientific visions matter: insights from three long-term socio-ecological research (LTSER) platforms under construction in Europe. Environmental Science & Policy 19, 90-99.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. (2005) Ecosystems and human well-being, volume 1: Current state and trends. Washington/Covelo/London: Island Press.

Millgram, E. (2015) The Great Endarkenment - Philosophy for an Age of Hyperspecialization, Oxford University Press.

Mirtl, M., Borer, E., Djukic, I., Forsius, M., Haubold, H., Hugo, W., Jourdan, J., Lindenmayer, D., McDowell, W. H., Muraoka, H., Orenstein, D., Pauw, J., Peterseil, J., Shibata, H., Wohner, C., Yuk, X. & Haase P. (2018) Genesis, goals and achievements of Long-Term Ecological Research at the global scale: A critical review of ILTER and future directions. The Science of the Total Environment 626, 1439-1469.

Mollenhauer H., Kasner, M., Haase, P., Peterseil, J., Wohner, C., Frenzel, M., Mirtl, M., Schima, R., Bumberger, J. & Zacharias, S. (2018) Long-term environmental monitoring infrastructures in Europe: observations, measurements, scales, and socio-ecological representativeness. The Science of the Total Environment 624, 968–978.

Nazir, J. & Pedretti, E. (2015) Educators’ perceptions of bringing students to environmental consciousness through engaging outdoor experiences. Environmental Education Research 22 (2), 288-304.

Nisbet, M.C. (2009) Communicating Climate Change: Why Frames Matter for Public Engagement. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 51 (2), 12-23.

Nowotny, H., Scott, P. & Gibbons, M. T. (2001) Re-Thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty, Wiley.

Olivos, P., Aragonés, J. I. & Amérigo, M. (2011) The connectedness to nature and its relationship with environmental beliefs and identity. International Psychology Hispanic Journal 4 (1), 5–19.

Pace, M.L., Hampton, S. E., Limburg, K. E., Bennett, E. M., Cook, E. M., Davis, A. E., Grove, J. M., Kaneshiro, K. Y., LaDeau, S. L., Likens, G. E., McKnight, D. M., Richardson, D. C. & Strayer, D. L. (2010) Communicating with the public: opportunities and rewards for individual ecologists. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 8 (6), 292–298.

Salmon, R.A. & Priestley, R. L. (2017) The reflexive scientist: an approach to transforming public engagement. Journal of Environmental Studies and Science 7, 53-68.

Silverman, D. (2000) Analyzing talk and text. In Denzin N.K. and Y.S. Lincoln (eds): Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd ed). London: Sage.

Singh, S. J., Haberl, H., Chertow, M. R., Mirtl, M. & Schmid, M. (2013) Long term socio-ecological research : studies in society-nature interactions across spatial and temporal scales. Springer, xxxvii, 588 pages pp.

Solnit, R. (2000) Wanderlust: A History of Walking. New York, Penguin Books.

Sonnert, G. & Holton, G. J. (2002) Ivory Bridges: Connecting Science and Society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Weber, J. R. & Ward, C. S. (2001) The Communication Process as Evaluative Context: What Do Nonscientists Hear When Scientists Speak? Bioscience 51 (6), 487-495.

Wynne, B. (2001) Creating Public Alienation: Expert Cultures of Risk and Ethics on GMOs. Science as Culture 10 (4), 445–482.


  • There are currently no refbacks.