Nature Marsilius Visiting ProfessorshipPreserving Journalistic Values

Press Release No. 73/2023
16 June 2023

Michele Catanzaro takes up the Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship for Science Communication at Heidelberg University

Exploring the question of how journalistic values can be preserved in a changing media landscape will be the main focus of Dr Michele Catanzaro, Spanish-Italian journalist, lecturer and author, in his time at Heidelberg University. While holding the Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship for Science Communication, Dr Catanzaro, who has a doctorate in physics, will lead several workshops dealing, inter alia, with responsible communication about the risks and benefits of research and technology, and also with approaching the issue of academic freedom. The programme of the visiting professorship – a joint initiative of Holtzbrinck Berlin, the Klaus Tschira Foundation and Heidelberg University – is intended to prepare young researchers in particular for communicating their research to a broad public and contributing to societal dialogue. In a public lecture on 25 July 2023, Michele Catanzaro will talk about the challenges of current fake news and disinformation, as disseminated in social media, for instance.

Porträt Michele Catanzaro

In a workshop on risk communication Michele Cantanzaro will describe and discuss the basic principles of this form of science journalism based on examples from the media. Other workshops will deal with general questions, for example about what scientific topics are of journalistic interest and how researchers can prepare for the interaction with media representatives. The final session at the Marsilius Kolleg of Heidelberg University will deal with threats to academic freedom. Michele Cantanzaro will facilitate this workshop with Frank Albrecht from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Frank Albrecht is responsible for the Philipp Schwartz Initiative at the foundation, which supports endangered scholars exposed, for example, to political persecution. The workshop will also examine the connection between academic research and human rights.

Michele Catanzaro studied physics in Rome as well as in Barcelona and earned his doctorate there at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya with a thesis on network theories. Since 2001 he has been working as a freelance journalist. His main topics include the environment, health, technology, legal and forensic issues, as well as science policy and academic freedom. His articles appear internationally in major magazines and newspapers, including in Germany. The 2016 winner of the title European Science Author of the Year, he teaches in the field of science communication at various universities in Spain. Michele Catanzaro has received multiple awards for his journalistic work.

The Nature Marsilius Visiting Professorship for Science Communication is a joint initiative of Holtzbrinck Berlin, the Klaus Tschira Foundation and Heidelberg University. It involves inviting well-known experts to the university to hold their own courses at the Marsilius Kolleg on what makes for quality reporting about scholarly research and scientific findings. At the same time, the visiting professors are expected to spark a broad-based discussion about new forms of exchange between academia and the public. Previous holders of the visiting professorship include the science journalists Eva Wolfangel, Ionica Smeets and Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim.