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    Author(s): Brian J. Burke; Meredith Welch-Devine; Seth Gustafson; Nik Heynen; Jennifer L. Rice; Ted L. Gragson; Sakura R. Evans; Donald R. Nelson
    Date: 2015
    Source: Environmental Communication
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Southern Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (130.59 KB)


    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.

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    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.


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    science writing, democratization, public engagement, journalism, coproduction

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