Environmental Communicators: Bridging the Attitude-Behavioral Gap in the Science of Science Communication

Friday 2:45pm Weeks Geo: AB20
Oral Presentation


Carrie Nelms, University of Arkansas Main Campus
"The science of climate change is not 'a problem' waiting for 'a solution,' rather, it is an environmental, cultural and political phenomenon which is re-shaping the way we should think about ourselves, our societies and humanity's place on Earth" (Hulme, 2009). Climate change could be the most overwhelming threat to our civilization; however, current Pew Polls (2015) are reflecting this issue is not the public's most relevant concern. The public's education over climate science literacy i.e. the earth's energy balance, enhanced greenhouse effect, sea-level rise, desertification, weather opposed to climate, etc. is not predominately learned from scholarly scientific journals, but from the mass media (Wilson, 2000). The results of a pilot study conducted on science teachers educating students on climate change showed 56% of teachers are educating students on climate change (Dawson, 2012). The United Nations (2010) claimed that young people do not receive environmental information from formal education but from the media. There is an abundance of evidence supporting a gap between scholars and practitioners in climate change education and communication. The need exists for a climate science teaching intervention to bridge climate science literacy to culturally diverse audiences. This research discusses the development of an interdisciplinary teaching intervention to produce individuals that would increase their environmental literacy and communication; furthermore, close the gap between pro-environmental attitude and low cost environmental change. The teaching intervention encompasses research covering the top science teaching pedagogues incorporated into 3 modules (climate science case study, audience analysis theory, group project development) that have been test piloted in the Fall of 2015. The focus of this teaching intervention addresses the young millenial's environmental awareness since this is the generation that will be impacted the most from climate change. The teaching interventions outcome will be to increase millennial's environmental literacy and awareness, increase their willingness to communicate about environmental issues, and increasing their abilities to construct better listener adapted messaging toward designated stakeholders.