Francesco Schettino, dubbed "Captain Coward" after allegedly abandoning ship before his passengers were safe, was invited by a professor to speak for two hours at a criminology seminar linked to Rome's La Sapienza university – despite being on trial for the deaths of 32 people in the 2012 Costa Concordia disaster.
Italy's Education Minister Stefania Giannini said the news was "disconcerting", while the university's dean distanced himself from the seminar, saying he had not been informed of Schettino's address, which he viewed as an "inappropriate and unworthy choice".
"I was called to speak because I am an expert. I had to talk about panic management," Schettino told La Nazione daily, saying he had used a 3D model of the doomed Costa Concordia cruise liner to demonstrate how emergency evacuations are carried out.
"I know what to do in these sorts of situations," he said.
Schettino is accused of refusing to give the order to evacuate until the vast ship had begun to topple over, despite knowing it was sinking from a hole torn in the side after he struck rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
The prosecution says the delay meant lifeboats on one side of the ship could no longer be launched, forcing panicked people to jump into the freezing sea.
Disbelief turned to outrage after the former captain went on to compare the Concordia shipwreck to the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York's World Trade Center, La Nazione said.
"I really am outraged by what can happen in this country. What sort of example is this to give to our young people?" said the prosecutor in Schettino's trial, Francesco Verusio.
Schettino faces up to 20 years in jail for manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship.