CLIMATE SHIFT: CLEAR VISION FOR THE NEXT DECADE OF PUBLIC DEBATE

Matthew Nisbet

As environmentalists, scientists, and philanthropists consider next steps in the policy debate over climate change, this report examines several trends and dimensions that remain at the center of discussion.  The comprehensive study is the first since to analyze the financial resources, strategies, communication activities, and impacts of the environmental movement drawing comparisons to its opponents among conservative groups and industry.

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THE SCIENCE JOURNALIST ONLINE: SHIFTING ROLES AND EMERGING PRACTICES

Declan Fahy and Matthew Nisbet

Science reporters today work within an evolving science media ecosystem that is pluralistic, participatory, and social, a mostly online environment that has enabled them to forge new connections with sources and audiences, but an environment that also challenges their historically dominant role as privileged conveyers of information to the public.  A similar opportunity has been afforded environmental organizations, scientists, and other experts, as they use blogs and social media to communicate about complex issues and influence debate.  Yet for these groups, the online environment has also posed unique challenges to their authority and to their ability to define the agenda.  In this multi-year project, we map the rapidly changing science media environment, drawing on interviews with journalists, organizational leaders, experts, and bloggers in the U.S, Canada, Australia, U.K, and Europe, describing shifting roles, emerging practices, and an altered balance of power.

TRANSFORMING SCIENCE EDUCATION FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

Matthew Nisbet, Lauren Feldman and Sol Hart

This project, part of a larger multi-year initiative, addresses gaps in what we know about how students, faculty, and policymakers perceive, communicate, and reach decisions about majors, careers, policy, funding, curriculum, pedagogical training, and classroom activities.  Our research is designed to inform strategies for coordinating and empowering partnerships across science education, communicating about the need for and benefits of reform; and effectively engaging and communicating with institutional actors and influentials outside of science education.

COMMUNICATING THE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE & ENERGY SCARCITY

Edward Maibach (George Mason), Matthew Nisbet and Anthony Leiserowitz (Yale)

This project examines how diverse segments of the public perceive and respond to information about climate change when presented in the context of public health.  In our initial study published this year at BMC Public Health, we conducted hour-long interviews with 70 respondents, recruited from 6 previously defined audience segments on climate change.  We found that even Americans who tend to discount climate change or are ambivalent about its relevance react favorably when the issue is re-framed in the context of public health.  These preliminary results suggest that when it comes to public engagement, health experts have an important, yet currently under-communicated perspective to share about climate change. In a forthcoming study, we examine how ideologically diverse segments of the public perceive the health risks of peak petroleum.  Research is supported by a grant from the Health Policy Investigators program at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.