PRESENTATION TOMORROW AT AAAS HQ: Research Shows That the Public Relies on Frames and Values to Make Sense of Policy Debates; Challenges Common Assumptions About What is Effective Science Communication
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."
For those in the DC area, tomorrow I will be giving the following presentation at AAAS HQ as part of the Science Policy Alliance speaker series. Breakfast is at 730 and the talk kick-offs at 815. I'm told about 180 people have RSVPed. I hope some readers can make it!
In the presentation, I explain why the dominant models of science communication--the science literacy and public engagement models--are incomplete, especially when thinking about how the public makes up its mind about contemporary controversies such as those over stem cell research or global warming.
In fact, when thinking about the 'mass public"--or how most Americans, most of the time make up their minds about these issues--there is nothing unique about science debates relative to ordinary political ones. The same rules and general patterns apply in understanding the interactions between strategic communication efforts, media coverage, and public opinion.
In the presentation, I explain the widely misunderstood concept of framing, and show how framing is being used to activate partisanship and religious identity as "perceptual screens" that guide interpretations of controversial topics such as stem cell research and global warming. I also discuss how framing can be used as an engagement tool that complements current efforts focused on formal science education, mass mediated popular science, and deliberative forum/town hall type meetings.
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