Finding your place on the science – advocacy continuum: an editorial essay
- 872 Downloads
The late founder of this journal, Stephen Schneider, argued that climate scientists must find the right balance between being honest about the limits of our knowledge and being effective in communicating the risks that climate change poses to society. The worlds of science and communications have changed dramatically in the years since Schneider first described this “double ethical bind”. Yet for most scientists, the core challenge of public communication remains. How do we choose between what we perceive as science – being honest – and what we perceive as advocacy – being effective? This essay suggests that scientists should view science and advocacy as opposite ends of a continuum with many possible positions. Drawing upon findings from psychology, communications, and science and technology studies, I describe how scientists can use research and critical self-analysis to be “scientific” about public engagement and to choose a suitable place for themselves on the science-advocacy continuum.
KeywordsPolicy Option Public Engagement Climate Scientist Normative Judgement Address Climate Change
The author would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for very helpful comments. This manuscript is based in part on talks and training sessions prepared for the University of British Columbia’s TerreWEB Program.
- Hansen J (2009) Storms of my grandchildren: the truth about the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity. Bloomsbury Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Leiserowitz A, Maibach E, Roser-Renouf C, Smith N (2011) Climate change in the American mind: Americans’ global warming beliefs and attitudes in May 2011. Yale University, New HavenGoogle Scholar
- Moser SC, Dilling LR (2011) Communicating climate change: closing the science-action gap. In: Dryzek JS, Norgaard RB, Schlosberg D (eds) The oxford handbook of climate change and society. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 161–174Google Scholar
- Schneider SH (2000) Is the “citizen-scientist” an oxymoron. In: Kleinman D (ed) Beyond the science wars: science, technology and democracy. State University of New York, Albany, pp 102–120Google Scholar