Title: Can science writing collectives overcome barriers to more democratic communication and collaboration? Lessons from environmental communication praxis in southern Appalachia
Author: Burke, Brian J.; Welch-Devine, Meredith; Gustafson, Seth; Heynen, Nik; Rice, Jennifer L.; Gragson, Ted L.; Evans, Sakura R.; Nelson, Donald R.;
Source: Environmental Communication
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Description: Despite compelling reasons to involve nonscientists in the production of ecological knowledge, cultural and institutional factors often dis-incentivize engagement between scientists and nonscientists. This paper details our efforts to develop a biweekly newspaper column to increase communication between ecological scientists, social scientists, and the communities within which they work. Addressing community-generated topics and written by a collective of social and natural scientists, the column is meant to foster public dialog about socio-environmental issues and to lay the groundwork for the coproduction of environmental knowledge. Our collective approach to writing addresses some major barriers to public engagement by scientists, but the need to insert ourselves as intermediaries limits these gains. Overall, our efforts at environmental communication praxis have not generated significant public debate, but they have supported future coproduction by making scientists a more visible presence in the community and providing easy pathways for them to begin engaging the public. Finally, this research highlights an underappreciated barrier to public engagement: scientists are not merely disconnected from the public, but also connected in ways that may be functional for their research. Many field scientists, for example, seek out neutral and narrowly defined connections that permit research access but are largely incompatible with efforts to address controversial issues of environmental governance.
Keywords: science writing, democratization, public engagement, journalism, coproduction
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
XML: View XML
Burke, Brian J.; Welch-Devine, Meredith; Gustafson, Seth; Heynen, Nik; Rice, Jennifer L.; Gragson, Ted L.; Evans, Sakura R.; Nelson, Donald R. 2015. Can science writing collectives overcome barriers to more democratic communication and collaboration? Lessons from environmental communication praxis in southern Appalachia. Environmental Communication: 1-18. 20 p.
Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility