MSCA Conference speakers - Vitalba Crivello

Vitalba Crivello is a science policy and science communication expert.

With a background in international law, economics and politics, communication & media, she has more than 15 years of work experience in science policy, project and communication management roles at the European level, either in EU Institutions and in consultancies.
Since 2018, she has been happily involved in the setting up and development of a brand new project of the European Parliament - the European Science-Media Hub (ESMH). The mandate of the ESMH is to promote a quality, knowledge-based science communication, by creating a network among policymakers, scientists and media involving science, academia, educational and research entities, journalists and scientists. Before that, Vitalba worked in the European Commission, dealing with open science, researchers’ careers and other related topics.

She will take part in the 2022 MSCA conference, in the third workshop on closing the gap between science and citizens.



A few more words

Vitalba Crivello speaks about her work and her participation in the conference.

Introduce yourself briefly. What are you currently working on?

I have a background in International Economics and Politics and Communications. I have been working in Science Policy and Science Communications for the last 10 years, covering different roles in the EU Institutions.
In 2018, I joined the European Science-Media Hub, the project of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) of the European Parliament aimed at creating a platform for policymakers, scientists and journalists to work better together to promote evidence-bases information and therefore, better science communication to all.
Working in the Hub/STOA is quite exciting as it implies a variety of tasks, and my role has evolved a bit during the pandemic. My daily tasks range from writing and editing scientific articles, policy briefs and other scientific content, managing research studies, organising scientific workshops and seminars for journalists and other audiences, and launching new projects to develop the Hub (videos, media monitoring, etc etc).
I am currently responsible for the management of two ESMH events: the workshop for journalists ‘Promoting trust in science to combat disinformation’ (20 May 2022, Madrid) and the ESMH Summer School for young science communicators ‘Journalism and climate change: how to tell the story right?’ (7-11 June 2022, Brussels). They aim at providing learning opportunities to science journalists on scientific subjects that are particularly relevant, by providing discussion fora with international experts.
Last but not least, the Hub is just launching a ‘Social Media Listening’ project. With the help of an external company specialised in media analysis, the Hub will produce regular reports on selected scientific topics that are circulating on social media. I coordinate this project, aimed at observing the conversation that is taking place on social platforms and to analyse and understand the public discourse. The analysis would allow us to anticipate and better target the communication on specific subjects.

You will participate in the conference as part of the science and society workshop, why does this topic matter to you?

The coronavirus outbreak has caused a high level of uncertainty in the public health sphere and enabled a flow of rumours about different aspects of the crisis.

Science (and new technologies) surround us in our daily lives. Wherever we as citizens rely on scientific sources, we need to be able to trust them and this should be not blind, but informed trust, based on knowledge. The pandemic has showed the critical importance of this connection between science and society, and proven the need for the public to better informed and involved in the debate about science.
The coronavirus outbreak has caused a high level of uncertainty in the public health sphere and enabled a flow of inaccurate news and rumours about different aspects of the crisis: the ‘infodemic’. The European Science-Media Hub (ESMH) has been seeing this as both a challenge and an opportunity for resolute and effective action.
Aware of the need to help the public navigate the massive information flow and find answers to their questions in knowledge-based science news, the ESMH responded to the coronavirus crisis by turning to the ‘guardians of the expertise’ – the scientists – involving them in all our regular publications (articles on scientific topics, interviews, and events).
The pandemic clearly showed the importance that the element of ‘trust’ plays in shaping some scientific beliefs of different societal segments.
The Hub is keeping its research and dissemination work on the link between science and society, with devoted events, articles/interviews and reports involving experts and researchers on the topic.

You are participating in the Science media hub project. What is different about this project compared to other scientific information projects?

The ESMH project is unique as its focus is on science communication as such, covering different science and tech subjects, with a citizen-friendly approach. It puts together the different actors participating into the creation of ‘science communication’ landscape, by allowing scientists, media makers, policy makers and citizen to have a regular dialogue on important scientific topics that affect our society. The Hub intends to make the public aware of the current scientific developments and tries to reach all EU countries, also promoting networking and constructive dialogue between the actors of different EU realities. The Hub being part of the European Parliament indicates its willingness to be addressing the EU citizens, while involving all different actors (scientists, media makers, policy makers, and the public). This is quite different from other scientific dissemination and information projects, which are usually targeting a more homogenous community of stakeholders.
Being a young project, the Hub is still developing and we are currently exploring our future direction, also observing the needs of the research and science communication community. As science policy evolves, science communication should also evolve accordingly. The social media listening project is just an example of this evolution, and more projects in this direction will be developed, in line with our initial mandate: better science communication to all!

In your opinion, can science be totally transparent to the public?

Some more efforts should/could be paid on subjects where there is a clear societal impact, such as health, environment....

Making science totally transparent to the public is possible, but there are some risks to be carefully kept in mind. Being science uncertain by definition, I think that the level of acceptance of the scientific uncertainty varies on the educational background of different segments of society. The pandemic has clearly showed this key element and the climate change crisis is another good example of how science is prone to ‘different’ interpretations and approaches.
Unfortunately, the risk of falling into the dis- and misinformation trap is very strongly out there.
And I believe that the role of science journalists and science communicators is critical as this uncertainty has to be channelled to the public. The role of media is nowadays much more prominent than the past, therefore we must be particularly careful on what and how scientific results are spread. This can be a very long debate, actually, and finding a good compromise to make "science more transparent" at all societal level (and not only to the élites) is one of the big targets of our times.
I also believe that scientific topics are not all the same, and that some more efforts should/could be paid on subjects where there is a clear societal impact (such as health, environment...).
Each "actor" has a critical role in contributing to build the puzzle here, but are we all ready to do it, and how? 


See also