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Silvia De Ascaniis


Silvia is lecturer and researcher (maître d'enseignement et de recherche) at the Institute of Digital Technologies for Communication of Università della Svizzera italiana - USI, Lugano (Switzerland). She is the coordinator of the UNESCO Chair in ICTs to develop and promote sustainable tourism in World Heritage Sites.

She got a PhD in Communication Sciences from USI with a thesis on pragmatic and argumentative aspects of Online Travel Reviews (freely accessible here). During the PhD she worked as instructional designer at eLab (the laboratory for eLearning applications of USI) and as assistant of the Director of study of the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society at USI. She was visiting scholar at the Institute for Innovation in Business and Social Research, University of Wollongong (Australia), where she worked under the supervision of prof. Ulrike Gretzel.

He activities lie in the intersection area among Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), tourism and heritage, and mainly tackle the following topics:

- characteristics, opportunities and risks of online communication;

- role and impact of ICTs in cultural tourism, religious tourism and pilgrimages/cultural routes;

- use of ICTs in the promotion and valorization of tangible and intangible cultural heritage;

- social and cultural sustainability of tourism.

At the moment, she is co-leading the project of science communication "The convent, the mortar piece and the building site. An incredible adventure through geology, history and archaeology", founded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, realized in collaboration with colleagues of the Department of Environment, Construction and Design of SUPSI and of the Foundation Pro Kloster St. John in Müstair. 

At USI, she is lecturer of the course “Online communication”, offered within the Bachelor in Communication and co-lecturer of the course "UNESCO World Heritage and Tourism" offered within the Master in International Tourism. She has been lecturer and member of the development team of the following Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC):

- "eTourism: Communication Perspectives", the first MOOC in eTourism, launched by USI in October 2015 and now fully free and open;

"Tourism Management at UNESCO World Heritage Sites" volumes I, II e III, produced by the UNESCO UNITWIN Network “Culture, Tourism, and Development”, and jointly led by Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris, France) and the UNESCO Chair at USI.  

During the a.y. 2015-2016, she led the initiative "#faces4heritage", launched by the U.S. Government to challenge the diffusion of violent extremism among young people and awarded among the best social media campaigns worldwide.

Silvia was executive director of the doctoral school Cross-Field (2013 - 2015), and the coordinator of the doctoral school Argupolis (2013 -  2015), both of them founded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

She also collaborated with the School of Church Communicatiom, Pontificia Università della Santa Croce in Rome, in the analysis of communicative strategies used by Italian family associations. 


- online communication

- cultural tourism, religious tourism, pilgrimage and cultural routes

- users requirements elicitation

- online localization 

- social and cultural sustainability

- argumentation in the context of online tourism

- heritage interpretation