Agora projects: five research projects at USI supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation

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Institutional Communication Service

24 May 2024

In the context of the Agora research projects of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), five projects submitted by USI have received positive responses, covering topics that touch on various disciplines of study at the University.

Agora projects are part of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) support programmes for scientific research and have a major impact on society in terms of disseminating knowledge among the population by promoting a concrete dialogue between science and society.

In this edition of the Agora call for proposals, the Swiss National Science Foundation decided to fund five projects proposed by USI researchers.

"The number of Agora projects approved represents an excellent result," said USI Pro-rector for Research, Patrick Gagliardini. "This reflects the effectiveness of our research strategy, which draws on the consolidated scientific expertise of our researchers and enhances the diversity and breadth of research topics at USI."

The projects supported reflect the varied research areas of USI's faculties and affiliates, spanning diverse disciplines.

Altogether, the five Agora projects received funding totalling around CHF 700,000.

The approved projects vary in terms of the topics addressed and the communication tools used. For example, the project by Prof. Jolanta Drzewiecka (Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society) uses the power of documentary filmmaking, combined with café dialogues, to give a voice to Eritrean refugees, the largest group of black refugees in Switzerland. Developed in cooperation with the IBSA Foundation, the "Happiness2.0" project by Prof. Peter Schulz (Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society) initiates a dialogue between experts and adolescents in the canton of Ticino on the impact of social media on their well-being. "Doppio Sguardo", the project of Prof. Katharina Lobinger (Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society), will exhibit in Lugano and Bellinzona a series of AI-generated selfies to reflect on the stigma we project onto this form of expression, even though it is so fundamental in building interpersonal relationships. Speaking of relationships, the project by Prof. Sara Greco (Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society), carried out in collaboration with the eLab Director, Stefano Tardini (USI e-Learning Lab), and Prof. Annamaria Astrologo (Faculty of Economics), is aimed at students at trade schools in the Canton of Ticino to reflect together on argumentation as a tool for resolving conflicts in the workplace through a special methodology: LEGO® Serious Play®. Lastly, the "Dialogues on Densification" project by Prof. Jonathan Sergison (Academy of Architecture) and Prof. Tom Avermaete (ETHZ) will take us to the Zurich of the future with an interactive exhibition at the Zentrum Architektur Zürich (ZAZ), which will make us reflect on the impact of urban densification.

SNSF support for scientific dissemination

The SNSF's Agora programme aims to facilitate dialogue between science and society. Projects can run for a maximum of three years and are eligible for funding of up to CHF 200,000. Applications undergo a competitive assessment by an international commission of scientists and experts in science communication. Agora projects are designed for a non-specialist audience of all age groups, as well as targeted audiences, including individuals who hold influential roles in society, such as politicians, social workers, or teachers in compulsory education.

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