cod. 1006258

Academic year 2018/19
1° year of course - Second semester
Academic discipline
Sociologia dei processi culturali e comunicativi (SPS/08)
"discipline tecniche dell'informazione e della comunicazione"
Type of training activity
36 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

At the end of the course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the importance of animating a public space for political and environmental discussion; to recognize the different subjects involved in the public debate and the different forms of communication used (texts, images, gestures and actions); to remember the main changes in the evolution of political and environmental communication.
- to be able to apply the learnt contents and carry out a complete analysis of different materials (texts, speeches, photographs, advertising, videos, etc.) with regard to statements and contents, narrative styles, emotional dimensions and reference values.
- to be able to interpret, evaluate and criticize the different forms of public intervention of a political and environmental nature with autonomy, reflexivity and rigor.
- to know how to communicate and compare ideas and opinions in a public debate, recognizing the complexity and legitimacy of different points of view, without renouncing one's own.
- to be able to participate with more awareness and with more critical tools in public life, preparing to take their responsibilities in front of the most important political and environmental issues that arise in particular in the relationship between different peoples, generations and species.


The course does not require special prerequisites.

Course unit content

Course of Sociology of political and environmental communication (6 CFU)

Course Title:
The climate of politics. Environmental emergencies and the destiny of democracy

Course program:
The course starts with a general introduction to political and environmental communication. An analysis will be proposed of the progressive simplification of communication and of the political debate, of the declining trust in democratic institutions and of the emergence of what has been called "post-democracy". Subsequently, some of the main emerging ecological issues will be addressed: the depletion of resources, the loss of biodiversity, pollution, climate change, environmental conflicts and climate refugees; it will be analysed how they enter the public debate, through information, mass media, cultural industry and the interventions of political and social subjects.
Finally, we will try to show how these environmental emergencies contribute to defining highly problematic processes of socio-economic transformation that challenge and deeply interrogate the meaning and the stability of democratic institutions. Addressing issues such as climate change in the post-democracy era confronts us with opposite scenarios of impasse and progressive depletion of democracy, or the regeneration and reinvention of an "ecological democracy".

Full programme

First part:
- Introduction to the course and general information
- What is political communication
- Approaches and perspectives for analysis of political communication
- Electoral communication (analysis of advertising and commercials)
- The crisis of trust in institutions and the emergence of "post-democracy"
- The simplification of the political debate and the Czech alleys of traditional politics

Second part
- Environmental communication and its dimensions
- Major environmental emergencies:
- Biodiversity loss and the sixth extinction
- Climate change
- The fossil resources and the energy question
- The water crisis and the food crisis
- Pressure on resources, new conflicts and militarization of the environmental question

Part Three
- A socio-environmental public space: post-normal science and scientific information
- Between the removal of risks and fears of change
- The challenges of environmental journalism
- A policy capable of future from post-democracy to ecological democracy


During the course we recommend the following two texts:

Colin Crouch, Postdemocrazia, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2003.

Christian Salmon, La politica nell’era dello storytelling, Fazi Editore, Roma, 2014.

An extensive bibliography on the topics covered during the course will be furnished. The students will choose one among the proposed topics of study and two related texts to prepare the written essay on which the exam will be based.

Teaching methods

The course uses and integrates different teaching methods: lectures; dialectical and interactive lessons based on solicitations, interaction and moments of discussion; vision, commentary and discussion of movies and documentaries. The course also includes seminar meetings with scholars and experts in the field of political, environmental and social communication, journalism and environmental sciences.

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam preparation for both attending and non-attending students consists of a general preparatory work (study of the course handouts) and a written thematic study (In-depth thesis).

For the thematic deepening:
Students must choose one of the course topics (see the course's thematic bibliography) and TWO texts related to it to conduct personal study. The In-depth thesis of 10-15 pages (18,000-25,000 characters including spaces) will be sent by email at least three days before the appeal to and will be discussed orally on the date of the appeal. Exclusively for attending students it is also possible to arrange research and in-depth study for small groups (2-3 people max.) Provided that the individual contribution in writing by each participant is clearly indicated in the essay (the length of the essays must be relatively proportional to the number of people involved).
The in-depth thesis, which forms the basis of the examination, will be judged on the basis of the following criteria:
- consistency with the course topics;
- originality in the proposed survey;
- ability to deepen, problematization and critical discussion of the chosen subject;
- breadth and appropriateness of bibliographic and documentary references compared to the in-depth literature used and to the materials of the course;
- exhibition capacity and quality of writing.
The exam consists of an interactive discussion around the contents of the essay.

The student who did not carry out the research and personal study required from the two selected books or who does not demonstrate an adequate understanding of the analyzed problem or the basic themes of the course will be considered insufficient. It will be assessed: sufficient or discreet, the student who has diligently carried out the research and the personal deepening and that proves to be able to handle with ownership the concepts and terms of the discipline; discreet or good, who in the discussion and discussion will show a greater capacity for elaboration and critical analysis; very good or excellent, who will have explored the matter in a more in depth and autonomous way, for example by consulting critical editions or by making comparisons on single editions of texts or different edition criteria. The votes will be expressed in thirtieths. The vote is communicated at the end of the test itself.

Other information

The thematic bibliography for the study and the materials of the course can be downloaded from the Elly platform: