AGU Workshop on Communicating Climate Change: Media, Dialogue, and Public Engagement

For their upcoming annual meetings in San Francisco, the American Geophysical Union is sponsoring a pre-conference workshop introducing scientists, public information officers, journalists, and other attendees to several areas of social science research that examine dimensions of climate change communication and public engagement.

Below the fold are the details and the conference page is here. You can sign up for the workshop by visiting this page. It promises to be a great event and I am looking forward to the ideas, connections, and discussion that it generates.
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Re-Starting the Conversation on Climate Change:
The Media, Dialogue, and Public Engagement Workshop


Sunday, 13 December (1:00 PM -5:00 PM)
Inter Continental Hotel Grand Ballroom C

Panel organized by
Matthew C. Nisbet, American University, and Inés Cifuentes, American Geophysical Union

Presenters: Maxwell Boykoff, Matthew C. Nisbet, and Edna Einsiedel

Increasing public understanding and action on climate change requires the application of research and expertise from the social sciences. This workshop features presentations from three leading researchers who are examining the factors that shape media coverage, public participation, and public dialogue. Discussion will emphasize lessons learned from the first two decades of climate change communication initiatives and the promise of several new directions.

Mass Media and the Cultural Politics of Climate Change

Max Boykoff, Ph.D.
University of Colorado-Boulder


Mass media serve vital roles in the communication processes between science, policy-makers and the public. This presentation reviews contextual factors as well as journalistic pressures and norms that contribute to how issues, events and information become climate 'news'. A particular focus will be on how these factors have contributed to misperceptions, misleading debates, and divergent understandings that undermine efforts at policy action.

How Framing Matters to Wider Public Participation on Climate Change

Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D.
American University, Washington, DC


This presentation discusses research analyzing the extent to which new frames of reference and narratives can generate wider public interest and participation on climate change. The results of qualitative interviews and surveys are reviewed, focusing on public reactions to various policy proposals and messages. The research is designed to provide scientists, policy experts, government agencies, journalists, and other stakeholders with practical guidance on how best to increase public understanding of the implications of climate change.

Worldwide Views on Climate change: An International Citizen Deliberation on Climate Policy

Edna Einsidedel, Ph.D.
University of Calgary, Canada

The UN Framework Program on Climate Change is holding its next round of discussions to update the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen in December, 2009. These climate change policy discusions have always involved government representatives and organized groups such as industry alliances and non-government organizations. For the first time, an international effort to hear what citizens around the world have to say on the policy questions was organized by the Danish Board of Technology, involving the participation of 38 countries, each with 100 citizen participants. This presentation describes both the process of mounting such an effort and the outcomes from the participating countries, with particular attention to differences between developed and developing countries. The challenges for global governance will also be discussed.

Biographies of Presenters

Maxwell T. Boykoff, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor in the Center for Science and Technology Policy, which is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California-Santa Cruz. Max's research interests involve: 1) analyses of the transformations of carbon-based economies and societies, and 2) examinations in cultural politics and the environment. Recent publications include peer-reviewed articles in Geoforum, Global Environmental Change, Transactions of the Institute of British Geography, Political Geography, Environmental Research Letters, and Climatic Change. He has also written commentaries for Nature Reports Climate Change and Nieman Reports as well as co-authored a background paper for the 2007 United Nations Development Programme Human Development Reports. Max recently published 'The Politics of Climate Change' for Routledge/Europa (November 2009) and is working on 'Who Speaks for Climate? Making Sense of Mass Media Reporting on Climate Change' for Cambridge University Press (2010).

Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at American University, Washington, DC. As a social scientist, he studies strategic communication in policy-making and public affairs, focusing on controversies surrounding science, the environment, and public health. He is the author of more than two dozen journal articles and book chapters and serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Press/Politics and Science Communication. Nisbet's current research with Edward Maibach on climate change communication is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where he is a Health Policy Investigator. He has also worked as a consultant to the National Academies, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation and other leading organizations. Nisbet is a frequently invited speaker at universities and meetings across North America and Europe.

Edna Einsiedel, Ph.D. is University Professor and Professor of Communication Studies in the Faculty of Communication and Culture at the University of Calgary, Canada. Her research interests are in the social issues around controversial science and technology. She has investigated approaches to public engagement and participation on emerging technologies and their public representations. She is currently co-leader on a GE3LS project (Genomics, Ethics, Economic, Environmental, Legal and Social studies) on Genomics and Knowledge Translation in Health Systems, supported by Genome Canada. Her publications have appeared in diverse journals such as Science, Nature Biotechnology, Public Understanding of Science, Science Communication, and Science and Engineering Ethics. She is former editor of the international journal Public Understanding of Science published by Sage and is a member of the Board of Governors for the Council of Canadian Academies of Science. She served as project lead for Worldwide Views-Canada, one of the 38 participating countries on Worldwide Views International.

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