Communicating Contested Geoscience to the Public
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September 29, 2017

Here at Envireau Water, we are excited to learn that Iain Stewart and Deirdre Lewis have written an article titled Communicating contested geoscience to the public: Moving from ‘matters of fact’ to ‘matters of concern’.

The abstract is below and you can access the article here.

Geological issues are increasingly intruding on the everyday lives of ordinary people. Whether it is the onshore extraction of oil and gas, the subsurface injection of waters for geothermal power or the deep storage of waste products, communities across the world are being confronted with controversial geological interventions beneath their backyards. Communicating these complex scientific and technical issues is made more challenging by the general public’s unfamiliarity with the geological realm. Cognitive studies confirm a cultural dissonance with the subsurface and highlight lay anxieties about tampering with nature. In addressing those concerns, factual information is argued to be subordinate to values and beliefs in shaping public perspectives on contested geoscientific issues. In this context, scientists’ attention to technical accuracy and their emphasis on professional consensus may do little to influence multiple publics whose worries instead root into their sense of place, trust and governance, as well as equity and ethics. With a growing recognition that it is social rather than technical factors that stir public unease and fuel community outrage, geoscientists need to develop new strategies to engage dissonant publics, underpinned by a culture change in geocommunication from conveying ‘matters of fact’ to brokering ‘matters of concern’.

Date for your Diary – if this sounds of interest, we will be hosting a 1 day Communicating Controversial Geoscience event on the 8th February at Loughborough University, facilitated by Iain Stewart and Hazel Gibson, following the success of the session that we held this summer. Read about the summer session here.

Get the date in your diary, and if you would like to receive more information about this upcoming event, please email leanne@envireauwater.co.uk.

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