A Philosopher of Biology at a Science Festival in a Literary Festival: Science Ground at Festivaletteratura

Lynn Chiu
Philosophy of Science Communication
2 min readSep 5, 2019


Hey-yo I’m at a science festival in a literary festival (Festletteratura #FestLet) invited as a philosopher of biology! What’s going on?! I didn’t know that this was a thing!

Why is there a science festival in a literary festival?
How did philosophers of science get invited?
What aspects of science are being communicated?

As with most things good, the origin story is roughly due to a couple of interested but influential individuals. The founder of ScienceGround, physicist Matteo Polettini, is the son of one of the founders of FestLet (aha!). Matteo started “volunteering” at the literary fest at the ripe age of 3.

Left: Lynn Chiu; Right: Matteo Polettini

As he grew older and climbed up the academic ladder, more & more scientists were pulled in as speakers at the festival and more and more scientists interested in scicomm were recruited as volunteers.

Less than 2 years ago, the volunteers reached a critical mass and Matteo & co decided to take this to the next level.

The group Ex-Temporane (no longer temporary) was founded. They formalized the scientific events under #ScienceGround-the science festival within a literary festival. About 7 scientists form the core group.

But why philosophers of science?

One of the core members — Sara Dal Cengio (Matteo met her at a physics conference) — happened to be multi-talented and multi-disciplinary. She was interested in science, literature, and philosophy but ultimately decided to become a scientist. ScienceGround, however, seems to be the perfect place to bring all three elements together. So she started organizing sessions that brought philosophers of science to the festival.

So that’s how ScienceGround in FestLet came to be and why tomorrow, I’m in a panel discussion with philosopher of biology Telmo Pievani to discuss MICROBES and EVOLUTION! On Sunday, I’ll give a critical review of ScienceGround events & talk about some conceptual issues about microbes and ecology.

What aspects of science are being communicated by Science Ground?

ExTemporane is now expanding beyond the festival. At the battlefront of the Culture Wars (the tension, Matteo told me, is actually quite great within the festival), they are sensitive to the values of science & critical about its incentive structures.

Scienceground is thus becoming a playground and lab not just about science or its promotion, but a place for scientists to have difficult but needed conversations about the problems facing the academy and the complex relationships between science and society.

So the communication of science can come in many forms… Science Ground is a wonderful example that incorporates the philosophy and social studies of science!

Check out their blog: http://scienceground.it/en/

Website of #FestLit: https://www.festivaletteratura.it/en



Lynn Chiu
Philosophy of Science Communication

I communicate science from a philosophical perspective. Researcher of living things that stay with the trouble. Communicator of risky interdisciplinary science.