Colloquium: The 2012 Iowa Climate Statement

Wed, 30 Oct, 12:10-1:00 212 Ross Hall RPC Research Colloquium

"Normative  issues  in communicating  climate science:  A case study of the 2012 Iowa Climate  Statement"

Jean Goodwin, Professor of English with Michael Dahlstrom, Mari Kemis, Clark Wolf and Christine Hutchison In 2012, a group of Iowa scientists issued a public statement using the severe drought as a "teachable moment" to send a message about climate change. In this talk, I’ll be presenting work from our  NSF-funded project, Cases for Teaching Responsible Communication of Science, that has been investigating this and similar instances where scientists have faced significant communication challenges.

Our goal is to develop pedagogical materials raising issues of science communication ethics, as well as to begin laying the groundwork for theory on this emerging research topic. After demo-ing a sample issue from the case, I’ll discuss preliminary findings from our interviews with some of the scientists involved. Diverse "factions" of scientists brought diverse values to the drafting of the Climate Statement; the result of their interactions was a document well positioned to resist criticism and achieve multiple goals. This case thus demonstrates how in designing and analyzing science communication, it is vital to go beyond considerations of effectiveness and attend to normative aspects as well.