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“A more holistic view of knowledge and science is becoming more necessary every day”

Interview with Pilar Carrera: Director of the UCC+i of the UC3M and Vice-president of Communication and Culture at the University.


Pilar Carrera graduated from the Universidad del País Vasco with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences. She studied for her PhD at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales de París and was awarded her doctorate with her thesis on Walter Benjamin. She is currently the Vice-president of Communication and Culture at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and Director of the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i) at the University. She directs the Master’s in Transmedia Documentary and Reportage, in partnership with RTVE, as well as the Master’s in News Agency Journalism, in collaboration with EFE. Among the latest books she has written are: “Basado en hechos reales. Mitologías mediáticas e imaginario digital” (Cátedra, in print); “Michael Cimino” (Cátedra, 2018); “Las Moradas de Walter Benjamin” (Biblioteca Nueva, 2017), “Nosotros y los medios. Prolegómenos para una teoría de la comunicación” (Biblioteca Nueva, 2016) and “El irresistible encanto de la interioridad. Cine y literatura” (Biblioteca Nueva, 2016). In this interview she talks about the activities that the UC3M has prepared for the European Night of the Researchers of Madrid 2019.

“Una visión más holística del saber y de la ciencia es cada día más necesaria”

What does the activity that the UC3M is organising consist of and what is its main objective, target audience, etc.?

We have proposed a program of activities at the University on Friday the 27th of September aimed at all audiences. In the evening, at 7:30pm on the UC3M’s Madrid-Puerta de Toledo campus, there will be an interdisciplinary round table entitled “Science and Fiction: crossed paths, from George Méliès to Blade Runner 2044”. During this discussion, different issues related to science fiction, not just from the strictly cinematographic point of view, but also from a socio-political dimension will be explored. There will also be various workshops related to research developed under R+D+I European Projects of the UC3M.   

What sort of subjects will these workshops cover?

They will cover a wide range of topics, from how mobile communications work or how antennae will be used with 5G to the revolution that we are on the verge of in the world of 3D printing, with the possibility of experimenting live to show how some technology related to these fields of study works. In addition, the subject of science fiction will be addressed in other workshops, such as an activity carried out by aerospace engineers in which they will analyse the extent to which films reflect certain scientific developments and technologies or in another workshop, there will be an in depth look into the impact that science fiction films have on research and scientific imagination, particularly the titles used by academics when they come to write their works.  

What is the most enriching part of participating in the Night? 

To get closer to research from a different, fun, and eminently interdisciplinary perspective. It is also interesting to speculate about the effect of the activities aimed at secondary schools pupils and the potential of awakening their vocations. In this sense, the UC3M has prepared a theatrical show in the morning on the same day aimed specifically at secondary and bachillerato (A-Level) level pupils, that explores the relationship between science and art through various presentations by researchers from the UC3M and a show by the artist Cris Blanco, a blend of concert and “performance” conference with a reflection on science and fiction.  

What gave birth to your research vocation? When and why did you decide you wanted to be a researcher?

I think my vocation, as with many others, in reality has to do with a very primitive instinct that always links back to the tenderest infancy: the curiosity of everything around us. I can’t name a moment in which I decided that I was going to dedicate myself to research. This curiosity has always accompanied me and I suppose I followed its course as I have considered it more opportune and interesting for me. 

What importance does divulgation have to you on a day to day basis? 

Contrary to what it seems, divulgation is a very difficult art. Making the complex or specialised intelligible does not just consist of diluting or simplifying the message, but searching for other forms of representation, other languages, which allow it to be accessed by non-experts.

What would you say to young people to encourage them to follow a career in research? What would you say to the girls and young women who don’t think science is for them?

I think young people, women or men, should have complete freedom to choose what they want. It is not more commendable to study Engineering over Philosophy, Audiovisual Communication or Law. Another thing, of course, is that women should consider which option will be as equally appreciated as it is gratifying for them. That being said, so that young people can choose freely, we must break away from many of the cliché workplace discriminations that are still clearly active in our society today and often govern that choice. 

What opinion do you think citizens have of scientists? Do you feel it is a recognised and valued profession? 

I think so, but I also think that the image of scientists is highly stereotyped and associated with set disciplines. A more holistic view of knowledge and science is becoming more necessary every day. I believe it is there, in this broadening of horizons, where there is serious work to be done. 

Do you think Europe gives sufficient support to research?

I suppose everything is open to improvement, even the good things, and here I again emphasise the same: the need for more support, starting from a more encompassing conception of knowledge and science and, definitely more open to disciplines of a humanistic nature.  

To finish off, we have some short questions:

What are your hobbies? 

Observing things the way my son does, watching films, going running, writing, reading, researching, working, chatting...

If you could travel in time, which moment in history would you go to? 

This one.

Recommend me a book.

Don Quixote, of course!

What is the last film you watched? 

"Heaven’s Gate", by Michael Cimino, which has become a compulsory monthly appointment for me over the last few years. 

And what is the last concert you attended?

Better than the last concert, I will name a reunion with a live recording: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 by Carlos Kleiber. The second movement is simply beautiful.


More information: 
“Science and fiction: crossed paths, from George Méliès to Blade Runner 2044”
European Night of the Researchers of Madrid 2019 of the UC3M 
7:30Pm to 9pm, Friday 27th of September 2019
Assembly Hall on the Madrid-Puerta campus of the UC3M 
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