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Join With American University Students in Their Course on “Science, Environment, and the Media”

This semester I am teaching an interdisciplinary course on “Science, the Environment, and the Media.”  The 25 combined undergraduate and graduate students in the course have split into project teams each selecting a semester long project examining the role of communication and the media relative to a diversity of prominent policy debates, ranging from climate change to industrial farming to renewable energy to reproductive health.

The students will be reviewing and backgrounding the relevant communication research on the topic, formulating a research and project plan, and then branching out into the Washington, DC policy community to conduct interviews, analyze news coverage and policy statements, and observe events. Along the way they will be filing a series of in-depth blog posts and video reports here at Age of Engagement and at other sites. In each class, to fuel their investigations, we will be covering central readings and topics in the field of science communication. 

Your opportunity to participate is to weigh in on these readings, blog posts, and the class discussion that will spill over into this blog space.  Below I have pasted the reading list for the opening weeks of the semester and each week I will be posting additional background and reflections on the topic.

So here’s the students’ and your first assignment.  Leave your comments and replies below:

Previous to this course, which readings or resources have you found useful in understanding the science, media, and policy nexus?  What questions, themes, challenges, or issues related to science and environmental communication would you like to better understand?

Jan. 24  Introduction to Key Themes and Issues

Nisbet, M.C. & Scheufele, D.A. (2009). What’s Next for Science Communication? Promising Directions and Lingering Distractions. American Journal of Botany, 96 (10), 1767-1778. (PDF).

Jan. 31 Communication and the Environmental Movement

Cox, R. (2006).  Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere.  Pp. 1-65.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schellenberger, M. & Nordhaus, T. (2004).  The Death of Environmentalism:  Global Warming Politics in a Post-Environmental World.  The Breakthrough Institute.  [PDF]

Brulle, Robert J. and Jenkins, J. Craig.  2006.  Spinning our way to sustainability?  Organization and Environment 19:1  82-87. [PDF]

Feb. 7  Models for Planning and Evaluating Communication

Wynne, B. (2009).  Interview: Rationality and Ritual.  In Cayley, D. Ed, Ideas:  On the Nature of Science.  Frederickton, CA: Goose Lane. [Also listen to episode.]

Brossard, D., & Lewenstein, B. V. (2009). A Critical Appraisal of Models of Public Understanding of Science: Using Practice to Inform Theory. In L. Kahlor & P. Stout (Eds.), Communicating Science: New Agendas in Communication (pp. 11-39). New York: Routledge.

Trench, B. (2008).  Towards an analytical framework of science communication models.  In B. Schiele et al (eds.), Science Communication in Social Contexts.  London: Springer. 

Sarewitz, D. (2010).  Not by Experts Alone.  Nature, August 2010 [HTML]

Maibach EW, Roser-Renouf C, Leiserowitz A (2008). Communication and Marketing as Climate Change Intervention Assets: A Public Health Perspective. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 35(5), 488-500. [HTML]

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Feb. 14  Experts and their Organizations

Bocking, S. (2006).  Nature’s Experts:  Science, Politics, and the Environment.  New Jersey:  Rutgers University Press, pp 16-46 and pp. 106-134.

Guber, D. & Bosso, C. (2009).  Past the Tipping Point? Public Discourse and the Role of the Environmental Movement in a Post-Bush Era.  In Environmental Policy: New Directions for the 21st Century, 7th ed., Norman Vig and Michael Kraft, eds. CQ Press, 2009: 51-74.

Pielke, R.A. (2007). The honest broker: Making sense of science in policy and politics. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp 1-22 and pp 135-162.

Feb. 21:  News Organizations and Journalists

Lewenstein, Bruce V. 1995. Science and the Media. In Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, edited by S. Jasanoff, G. E. Markle, J. G. Petersen and T. Pinch. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

Brumfiel, J. (2009). Supplanting the Old Media? Nature, 458, 274-277. [PDF]

Fahy, D. & Nisbet, M.C. (under review).  Science Journalists Online: Shifting Roles and Emerging Practices. Journalism: Theory, Practice, Criticism.


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