Research on Science, Technology and Culture. Shifting Opinions, Shifting Policy, Shifting Society.
Public Intellectuals

BC Canada’s The Tyee Magazine on Bill McKibben and Building a Broader Climate Movement

At The Tyee this week, a terrific non-profit online magazine covering news, culture and solutions as they relate to British Columbia and beyond, Geoff Dembicki profiles Bill McKibben and his work as a co-founder and leader of 350.org.  In doing so, Dembicki draws on and addresses several themes that I explored in my Spring 2013...

The Opponent: How Bill McKibben Changed Environmental Politics and Took on the Oil Patch

For the May/June issue of Canada’s Policy Options magazine, I contributed an article adapted from my Spring 2013 Shorenstein Center paper examining the career of environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben.  With anticipation building over Obama’s pending decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, the article at Policy Options is the first in the Canadian press...

Slides for March 28 Lecture at Boston University: Journalists As Public Intellectuals in the Climate Debate

  Thursday, March 28, 2013 Visions of a Sustainable Future: Journalists as Public Intellectuals in the Climate Change Debate In this month’s COM Research Colloquium, Dr. Nisbet (Associate Professor of Communication and Co-Director of the Center for Social Media, American University, Washington, D.C.) examines the role of prominent journalists as public intellectuals in society today....

Harvard Shorenstein Center Paper on Bill McKibben as Journalist, Public Intellectual and Activist

In a paper released today by Harvard University, I analyze the career of writer-turned-activist Bill McKibben and his impact over the past 20 years on the  climate change debate.  Below is a description of the paper from the corresponding web page at the Kennedy School of Government’s Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy....

Earth’s Library: Estimating Book Publishing Trends Related to Climate Change

For a study I am working on this semester while on sabbatical at Harvard University, I wanted to try to estimate book publishing trends over time related to climate change, renewable energy, biodiversity, sustainable development, and population growth. After consulting with several librarians, my best option was to estimate these publishing trends by way of...

The Good and the Bad of Nate Silver’s Cultural Celebrity

Over at the Breakthrough, my latest Public Square column takes a look at the good and the bad of Nate Silver’s cultural celebrity and oracle status.  Here’s how the column starts out: If you are a Democrat, you were likely feeling good on Election Day about President Obama’s chances.  Many pollsters and forecasters predicted an Obama...

Revisiting Richard Posner’s Decline of the Public Intellectual Thesis

Reposted from Big Think. –Guest post by Paula Orlando, American University doctoral student. Should it take a public intellectual to decide what a public intellectual actually should be? The literature on public intellectuals presents serious tensions regarding the differentiation between academics and public intellectuals as well as the understanding of the proper role that a...

What Carl Sagan, Brian Greene, and E.O. Wilson Understand About Communication

In 2008, I discussed with Big Think why popularizers like Brian Greene, E.O. Wilson, and Carl Sagan are so effective at engaging the public on complex science subjects. I also described how research can inform science organizations and others institutions in doing systematically what these great popularizers have learned to do intuitively. Below is video...

American Ideas: Conversation with “Cure for Everything” Author Timothy Caulfield

In May, University of Alberta health law expert Timothy Caulfield visited American University to discuss his best-selling book “The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness, and Happiness.” Caulfield spent a year going on a “quest to find the truth about the things that make us healthy,” wading through a mass of misinformation,...

More on the Shifting Roles of Science Journalists in the Digital Age

Following up on our study analyzing the shifting roles and emerging practices of science journalists, Declan Fahy contributed a valuable discussion to the news site of the British Association of Science Writers.  Lede below. Also see Fahy’s article at CJR.org and a more detailed discussion with PDF of the study. Now that science reporters have...