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“Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson as the core of the University of Pisa project financed by Circle U. Seed Funding Scheme

The project was presented by Claudia Pisuttu, research fellow at the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Agro-Food Sciences

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The winner of the Circle U. Seed Funding Scheme 2023 call is the project SEGRETI - “Science, Environment and Gender: The Reception of “Silent Spring” nowadays”. The project is led by Claudia Pisuttu, research fellow at the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Agro-Food Sciences of the University of Pisa, and co-led by two other partners in the Circle U. Alliance, the universities of Aarhus and Belgrade. Published in 1962, Rachel Carson’s most famous book is considered a precursor manifesto of the environmental movement.


“The publication of “Silent Spring” had two main consequences: changes in environmental policies and the exposure of a writer, at first significantly underestimated both as a biologist and a woman, who was ultimately celebrated for her work – explains Pisuttu – Thanks to the heterogeneity and experience of the experts involved, the workshop will explore different scientific contents from an agronomic, ecological, biological/health point of view, as well as social issues regarding gender equality and its impact in achieving sustainable democracies.”

The project is divided into three online events: the first session, "Solutions to sustain the green transition," will focus on progress in the sustainability of agricultural and production processes; the second session, "Health and disinfestation" will explore the use of agrochemicals through history, starting from the initial benefits up to the current evidence of damage; the last session, "A provocative book or a provocative woman?", will provide an overview of significant figures and challenges of women scientists.

Claudia Pisuttu.

SEGRETI was conceived to promote collaborations between Circle U. partners in the development of strategies and research projects to support the green transition in the context of new European and global policies (reduction of agrochemicals, request for zero residue products, low disturbance of ecosystems) and the 2030 Agenda. The horizontal segregation of women – i.e., the under-representation of women in the workplace – will be studied both as a phenomenon causing disparity and discrimination but also as a loss of voices and perspectives that limits science, depriving scientific research and policies of women's approaches. "As students and young researchers in the scientific field, my colleagues and I wanted to find a useful, simple and accessible tool to discuss sustainability thoroughly, from a strictly biological and ecological point of view to a social and inclusive one – continues Pisuttu – Furthermore, as women, we also needed to find a space to express all the issues (difficulties and concerns) and hopes related to gender inequality. Rachel Carson and her book, "Silent Spring", represent well the connection between these two points, and since 2022 marks the book’s 60th anniversary, it seemed natural to write something to celebrate it."

The Circle U. Seed Funding Scheme provides funds to university teachers, researchers and students, thus facilitating long-term collaborative activities within the alliance. Concretely, the program gives the possibility to propose innovative projects ranging from seminars, workshops, modules, courses and joint research activities developed in collaboration with at least two other partners. In 2023, out of 70 applications submitted by researchers and students from Circle U's nine universities, 13 projects were funded.


  • 14 December 2023

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