How do we expect to live in the future? Will human beings eat healthier? Will there be enough food for everyone? What about our brain and our body: will we be able to heal or improve them with drugs or technology at will? Moreover, how will we respond to the chances and risks of manipulating the human being from its very beginning, from “artificial” reproduction to exploiting the full potential of stem cells? Most of all: what do we want the future to be?
Between now and summer 2016, about 2000 students across Europe are going to discuss these issues in both local and European student parliaments, for the second round of the project: Debate Science!
In Bellinzona, Switzerland, during the first round of Debate Science!, L’ideatorio-USI (University of the Italian Switzerland) organized a local parliament in March 2014. During three intense days, about 80 students of the Scuola Cantonale di Commercio (high school) discussed about The future of our city, debating on current issues like mobility, energy, demography, climate changes and smart cities.
“Considering that nuclear energy will not be maintained in the future in Switzerland,” said for instance one student committee, “we ask to improve efficiency in building, starting from the public ones, and to tax energy consumption beyond a fixed level.” “People who pollute more, should pay more,” stated another committee, suggesting that taxes could be an incentive to move people to choose better, more environmentally friendly habits.
To help the students to manage with the complexity underlying each topic, different experts from the region contributed, like the economist and researcher Prof. Luca Crivelli, or Dr. Marco Gaia, Head of Regional Center South of the Federal Office of Metereology and Climatology MeteoSwiss. The parliament took place in the beautiful city council hall, and was introduced by the mayor of Bellinzona.
The next round of Debate Science! is going to bring together students from the Liceo Cantonale (high school) of Mendrisio on a different, but similarly challenging theme, The future of the human being. About 70 students will gather in a three-day meeting that will be held in different venues in the city: The Academy of Architecture for the opening, the school itself for the expert hearing and the city hall for the parliamentary debate.
A leading researcher on stem cells, Dr. Angelo Vescovi has been invited to be one of the experts, as well as Prof. Daniela Parolaro, active in teaching and research about drugs and brain. It is a great opportunity for students to be in touch with these and other relevant experts, including some who will be part of the first Medicine faculty in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland (planned for 2017). This exciting event will attract many young people from the entire region.
Last but not least, projects like Debate Science! are a double-sided opportunity for the participants: not only a chance to explore scientific topics along with researchers, but also an opportunity to experience democracy, and good decision-making.
Author: Janos Cont