At The Three Cultures Summit on Climate Change, What Scientists Want to Learn From Social Scientists
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
I'm spending the weekend in Oregon at an outpost on the edge of the Columbia River Valley. I'm in town for a unique three cultures summit on climate change, a workshop that brings together scientists, social scientists, philosophers, poets, and artists to discuss strategies and methods for public engagement and communication.
This afternoon we broke into separate disciplinary groups and embarked on a short hike to reflect on what we would like to learn from the other disciplines. When we returned, I jotted down the following notes on what scientists said they would most like to learn or know from social scientists. Here's what they said:
Practical specific applications of framing
Data on different values of different segments of society regarding climate change
How to get policy makers to listen.
Establish an ongoing formal dialogue and partnership with social scientists on sustainability and science.
How to listen effectively given a diversity of social values (communication should be a 2 way street)
Guidance on where to best target our efforts i.e. which segments of the public?
How to communicate through social networks
Help with understanding the practical limits of effective advocacy.
Studies of the culture of science.
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
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