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Jan 25, 2021 Article
Effects of opinion statements on laypeople's acceptance of a climate engineering technology. Comparing the source credibility of researchers, politicians and a citizens' jury

by Geraldine Klaus, Lisa Oswald, Andreas Ernst and Christine Merk

To examine the influence of different actors' fictitious statements about research and deployment of stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI), we conducted an online survey in Germany. Participants assess researchers and a citizens' jury to be more credible than politicians. Credibility has a strong positive effect on SAI acceptance in both pro-SAI and contra-SAI conditions. Reading the statement against SAI-deployment led to significantly lower acceptance scores compared to reading the pro-statement. However, the difference between messages was unexpectedly small, indicating that the message content was not fully adopted while underlying traits and attitudes mainly shaped acceptance even despite, or because of, low levels of knowledge.

Volume 20 • Issue 01 • 2021

Nov 24, 2020 Commentary
A rhetorical perspective on youth environmental activism

by Hannah R. Feldman

As “alternative” [Maeseele, 2009] science communicators, young people (of pre-voting age) have an important role to play in the climate communication arena. Youth have access to rhetorical resources associated with evidence-based and emotional appeals. However, they are challenged by political, media and public entities on their ability to effectively engage with politicised scientific issues. Their credibility and authority to speak on climate issues are challenged. This piece takes a rhetorical lens to a current youth climate change advocacy case study, the ‘School Strike for Climate’. I argue that Australian youth are criticised for being politically inexperienced in attempts to silence them from speaking out about Australian climate change policy. Implications for science communicators working in the climate change space, and the ‘Strike’ participants themselves are discussed.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Nov 24, 2020 Commentary
The ambivalent role of environmental NGOs in climate communication

by Simone Rödder

Environmental NGOs play a vital role in public climate communication through their awareness-raising activities and educational campaigns. This commentary points to a potentially problematic implication of their role as climate science advocates which includes the general tendency to attribute environmental changes and extreme weather events to climate change. These climate-centric framings, however, may not resonate with the lived experiences and belief systems of local communities, not even in geographically vulnerable areas. I draw on local case studies to show that communities often express a sense of “shared responsibility” between global carbon dioxide emissions and ecologically deleterious local practices such as shrimp farming (in Bangladesh) and cutting trees (in the Philippines). As a consequence, the studies show mismatches between activists' attributions of local circumstances and events, and local communities' ways of knowing their local circumstances.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Nov 24, 2020 Commentary
Socioenvironmental activism and emerging science communicators in Mexico

by Susana Herrera-Lima

Activists, social organizations and members of citizen collectives in Mexico and Latin America have assumed not only the fight for water and territory, but also the difficult task of interacting with experts in different scientific fields, and the challenge of placing their causes in the public space. They take the role of cultural mediators between affected people, scientists and politicians within hybrid transdisciplinary working groups. Within the framework of these groups' actions, a new current of communication of science has emerged, one that shifts its interest from encouraging involvement with scientific knowledge for its own sake, to untangling, understanding and communicating socio-environmental issues for the explicit purpose of contributing to social transformation.

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Nov 24, 2020 Commentary
Activists as alternative science communicators. The NGO “Danish Seed Savers”: science communicators and activists but questionably alternative

by Louise Windfeldt

This commentary describes the work of the NGO Danish Seed Savers, working with heritage plants, highly prioritized by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Danish Seed Savers act as activists, when they work to change the implementation of EU seed-legislation. At the same time, they have a seat in the Danish Committee on Plant Genetic Resources and help the Ministry of Food to protect and communicate about heritage plants. The commentary reflects on the role of the Danish Seed Savers. They are science communicators and activists but asks: are they alternative?

Volume 19 • Issue 06 • 2020

Sep 21, 2020 Article
Addressing diversity in science communication through citizen social science

by Lissette Lorenz

This article seeks to address the lack of sociocultural diversity in the field of science communication by broadening conceptions of citizen science to include citizen social science. Developing citizen social science as a concept and set of practices can increase the diversity of publics who engage in science communication endeavors if citizen social science explicitly aims at addressing social justice issues. First, I situate citizen social science within the histories of citizen science and participatory action research to demonstrate how the three approaches are compatible. Next, I outline the tenets of citizen social science as they are informed by citizen science and participatory action research goals. I then use these tenets as criteria to evaluate the extent to which my case study, a community-based research project called ‘Rustbelt Theater’, counts as a citizen social science project.

Volume 19 • Issue 04 • 2020

Aug 03, 2020 Practice Insight
Free Bright Conversations — meaningful participatory activities for the communication of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

by Manuel Ballatore and Marie Bartsch

Political, economic and social actors have begun to implement the 17 SDGs (UN 2030 Agenda) to build a desirable future for everyone. To reach this goal, a mix of systemic alteration and individual change is needed. “Free Bright Conversations” is a dialogue-based science communication event developed at MUSE-Science Museum in Trento that focuses on people's engagement with sustainable development. The paper describes the format and provides an evaluation based on preliminary data collected on two occasions. The authors conclude that participatory science communication furthers involvement with our common, sustainable future.

Volume 19 • Issue 04 • 2020

Jun 16, 2020 Commentary
How a climate change sceptic politician changed their mind

by Cobi Calyx and Jenny Low

This is a story of how an Australian in a position of power changed their mind about climate change, in response to deliberations of a panel of scientists broadcast on television. The politician then put on record their thought processes in changing mind, sparking public response. The unexpectedly positive outcomes of a speech to parliament and role of social media in shaping action are explored. Given Australia contributes disproportionately to greenhouse gas emissions, this story of science and political communication and has global value in climate change research.

Volume 19 • Issue 03 • 2020

Jun 01, 2020 Article
Post-normal science communication: exploring the blurring boundaries of science and journalism

by Michael Brüggemann, Ines Lörcher and Stefanie Walter

This article provides a framework for analysing changes and continuities in science communication. The field is challenged by three contexts: (1) ‘post-normal situations’ of coping with uncertainties, value questions, an urgency to take action, and associated political pressures; (2) a dramatically changing media environment, and (3) a polarizing discourse culture. We refine the concept of post-normal science to make it more applicable to analyse public science communication in an era of digital media networks. Focussing on changes in the interactions between scientists and journalists, we identify two ideal types: normal and post-normal science communication, and conclude that the boundaries of science and journalism are blurring and under renegotiation. Scientists and journalists develop new shared role models, norms, and practices. Both groups are increasingly acting as advocates for common goods that emphasize the emerging norms of post-normal science communication: transparency, interpretation, advocacy and participation.

Volume 19 • Issue 03 • 2020

Apr 14, 2020 Article
Chanting to the choir: the dialogical failure of antithetical climate change blogs

by Jenni Metcalfe

Blogs provide potential for publics to engage more deliberatively through dialogue in controversial science than one-way dissemination methods. This study investigated who was commenting on two antithetical climate change blogsites; how they were commenting; and the quality of their dialogue. Most research into science blogs has focused on bloggers rather than commenters. This study found that both blogsites were dominated by a small number of commenters who used contractive dialogue to promote their own views to like-minded commenters. Such blogsites are consolidating their own polarised publics rather than deliberately engaging them in climate change science.

Volume 19 • Issue 02 • 2020