2011 Summer Symposium

The Ethical Challenges of Communicating Science within Political Controversies

May 13 -14, 2011   How should scientists communicate when called to speak in the midst of a political controversy? Political decisions involving climate change, evolution and vaccines are only a few timely examples of personal and collective decisions being based on less and less science. This lack of scientific influence within policy-making is not merely a problem of ineffective communication, but also a problem of inappropriate communication that can damage trust and credibility even if information is factually accurate. A better understanding of the ethical perceptions driving public expectations about how science and scientists should communicate within the political process can help scientists better navigate the complex task of offering expertise within policy contexts. This symposium builds on Iowa State University’s expertise in science communication by bringing together four local and national experts to explore the ethical considerations of science communication within policy-making. By drawing upon scholars in both humanities and social science disciplines, this panel opens an interdisciplinary conversation bridging diverse literature to better address this often-overlooked communication challenge. Panelists include Matthew Nisbet from American University, Dane Scott from the University of Montana, Paul Thompson from Michigan State University and Michael Dahlstrom from Iowa State University. This symposium is funded through the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities with the keynote speech co-sponsored through the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. The symposium is free and open to the public. ———————————————————————————————————————— Friday, May 13, 20112:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Hamilton Hall

172 Meet and Greet with Keynote Matthew C. Nisbet Prior to the evening’s keynote, come to discuss Nisbet’s recent report on climate change, reactions to the report, your own research or to discuss science communication ethics in general. Graduate students are especially invited. ————————————————————————————————————————   Friday, May 13, 20117:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Cardinal Room Memorial UnionDessert reception to follow   Keynote Speech: Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the Next Decade of Public Debate Matthew C. Nisbet This lecture presents findings from the first-ever comprehensive study of the financial resources, strategies, and communication activities of environmental groups and scientists working to mobilize societal action on climate change, drawing comparisons to the financial resources, strategies, and activities of conservative groups and industry associations that oppose action. Implications are discussed relative to the role of universities as institutions engaged in research, education, and public engagement. Biography ———————————————————————————————————————–   Saturday, May 14, 2011 - 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Cardinal Room Memorial Union – Lunch provided Research Roundtable Discussion: The Ethical Challenges of Communicating Science within Political Controversies Panelists: Matthew Nisbet from American University, Dane Scott from the University of Montana, Paul Thompson from Michigan State University and Michael Dahlstrom from Iowa State University. Drawing upon research in both humanities and social science disciplines, these four local and national experts build upon Iowa State University’s expertise in science communication by presenting and discussing new research to fully explore the ethical considerations of science communication within policy-making through an interdisciplinary conversation. Full Schedule 9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m Opening remarks by James Andrews, director of the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities 9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m Session 1 - Debating Science: Ethics Education and Deliberation – Dane Scott 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Session 2 – Ethics and Risk Communication – Paul Thompson 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Free Lunch in the Campanile Room 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Session 3 - _Frames versus narratives: A framework for ethical articulation in science communication -_ Michael Dahlstrom 2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Session 4 - _Civic Education About Climate Change: Opinion-Leaders, Communication Infrastructure, and Participatory Culture –_ Matthew Nisbet 3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Overall Discussion ———————————————————————————————————————–   Michael Dahlstrom is an Assistant Professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University. As a founding member of the Science Communication @ ISU research group, he works with colleagues from social science, humanities and STEM fields across Iowa State University to explore the complex communicative interactions between the scientific lab and the legislature. Michael’s research been published in leading journals in the communication field and currently sits on the executive board of the Communication Theory and Methodology Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. His current research focuses on the effects of narrative structure on the acceptance of science information and its role in correcting inherent biases in the attempt to perceive scientific topics beyond the realm of human scale. Michael holds a joint Ph.D. in Mass Communication and Environmental Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a M.S. in Biophysics from Iowa State University.   ———————————————————————————————————————— Matthew Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication and Affiliate Associate Professor of Environmental Science at American University. As a social scientist he studies strategic communication in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over science, the environment, and public health. He is the author of more than 35 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and he serves on the editorial boards ofScience Communication and the International Journal of Press/Politics. Nisbet’s scholarship has been cited more than 500 times in the peer-reviewed literature and in more than 150 books. His current research examining the debates over climate change and energy policy is funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2011, he was named a Google Science Communication Fellow in recognition of his work on climate change. He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Communication from Cornell University and an A.B. in Government from Dartmouth College. ———————————————————————————————————————— Dane Scott is Director of The Center for Ethics and Associate Professor in the Department of Society and Conservation in the College of Forestry and Conservation, at The University of Montana. Scott was the PI on a recently completed NSF, EESE project, Debating Science. This 4-year ethics education project was designed to help graduate students in science and engineering consider the larger ethical dimensions of their research and to become productive participants in public science debates. Scott’s research focuses of ethical issues in science and technology debates, for example the international debates over climate change and genetically modified organisms. Scott is currently the PI on an NSF, STS program examining the ethical implications of solar radiation management. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Vanderbilt University and has a BS in soil science from the University of California-Riverside.   ———————————————————————————————————————— Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University, where he serves on faculties in the Departments of Philosophy, Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, and Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies. He received the Ph.D. in philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1980, and has served on the faculties at Texas A&M University and Purdue University before coming to Michigan State in 2003. Thompson is known for his work on developing methods for studying ethical issues in agriculture and his work on emerging technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology and cloning has been especially well received. He has also published numerous papers on sustainability both in agriculture and more generally. His book The Agrarian Vision: Sustainability and Environmental Ethics will be published by The University Press of Kentucky in late spring of 2010. Dr. Thompson is a two-time recipient of the American Agricultural Economics Association Award for Excellence in Communication, and in 2010 he was a speaker at the Gustavus Adolphus College’s 46th Nobel Conference on “Making Food Good.”