Sara Greco is the new Director of IALS


Institutional Communication Service

4 March 2024

Professor Sara Greco has been appointed Director of the USI Institute of Argumentation, Linguistics and Semiotics (IALS) and has succeeded Professor Andrea Rocci as of 21 February 2024.

Sara Greco, previously the Vice Director of the Institute, was appointed as the Director by the Council of the Faculty of Communication, Culture, and Society in February 2024. At the same time, Professor Rocci was elected as the Vice Director. The primary responsibility of the new Director will be to manage and coordinate the institute's activities while maintaining dialogue with the Faculty.

The Institute of Argumentation, Linguistics and Semiotics is dedicated to teaching and research activities that revolve around the significance of argumentation in the form of dialogue and reasonable process. The institute also focuses on the study of rhetorical strategies, both verbal and multimodal, and interpersonal communication in various professional practices such as financial communication, conflict mediation, communication in the public sphere, media, social media and advertising. It is supported by the USI Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society.  

"I have gladly accepted this position, and I am confident that I can use it effectively to further develop the IALS institute within the Faculty and the university," says Professor Sara Greco. "I am thankful to my colleague Andrea Rocci, who first suggested this appointment, and to my colleagues in the Faculty for their trust."


What are the institute's goals in the near future?

The institute's primary objective is to continue growing in research while further fostering the international reputation of IALS through new publications and projects. IALS is already considered one of the internationally recognised centres with regard to argumentation studies in the field of discourse analysis and language sciences. 

In addition, I have set priorities in internal management. The priority is to invest in the scientific mentoring of doctoral and post-doctoral students and researchers, as they are the heart of the institute and face typical challenges at the beginning of their research careers. 

Moreover, I would like IALS to strengthen its dialogue with other institutes of the Faculty and the community, further increasing the already numerous collaborative activities with society even outside the university context.


What does it mean to be head of IALS?

As the Director, I believe my main role is to listen, coordinate, and promote the activities of the people who work with us. While individual professors lead research activities, they are coordinated at the institute level. Similarly, teaching activities that we carry out within the Faculty at all levels of education must also be coordinated to encourage harmonisation and shared work within IALS. In my opinion, research and teaching are closely connected and mutually supportive.


What role do argumentation and rhetoric play today?

Argumentation and rhetoric play a crucial role in our communication. They help us assess the quality of our communication and enable us to critically evaluate how our communicative actions contribute to the growth of public debate and interpersonal relations. Argumentative dialogue is a tool for shared decision-making, which relies on critically assessed reasons and mutual respect for the participants involved. It is a dialogical tool based on inclusive and respectful reasoning. That is why argumentation studies analyse manipulative processes that violate reasonableness and respect, such as hate speech, to cite a current example. In teaching and research, IALS, therefore, proposes a vision of critical, constructive and collaborative argumentation, capable of resolving conflicts, raising new discussions, improving decision-making and promoting communication that builds relationships and society.


Towards which direction does research in this field point?

In general, argumentation studies are growing in Switzerland as well as internationally. IALS proposes a thought-provoking approach always associated with an empirical focus, anchored in the careful study of written and oral communication data in different contexts (from financial communication to conflict mediation, public debate and social media controversies). In line with the great challenges of digitalisation, our objective is to further incorporate technological techniques and tools into linguistic and argumentative research to enable systematic and partly automatic data analysis while maintaining a critical and informed perspective.


Equal opportunities

Francesca Scalici, Head of USI Equal Opportunities Service, states: "The appointment of Professor Sara Greco to a top position represents another important step for USI, demonstrating the institution's and individuals' commitment to improving women's academic profiles and addressing the issue of vertical segregation. Concrete measures such as supporting women's academic careers and recognising their leadership roles can help reduce gender gaps in the academic body, particularly in certain disciplines and top positions".