In this issue
Graduate Diploma in
Note from the editor ..................... 1 Research Articles .......................... 2 Exploring the public‟s potential perception of sustainable agriculture through the communications in print mass media S.M. Rogers..................................... 2 The environmental behaviour knowledge and environmental actions of Generation X L. Roy ............................................ 14 Articles ......................................... 19 Vitamin C, colds and health J. McCallum.................................. 19 Our feathered friends, the dinosaurs K. McAvoy .................................... 20 Social Media ................................ 21 Don‟t be such a scientist… J. So .............................................. 21 Conferences ................................. 22 Using science communication techniques to engage the public J. Baxter-Gilbert ........................... 22 About the Graduate Diploma in Science Communication ............. 22 About the Research Bulletin ...... 22
Engaging Canadians in Science Issue 2 March 8, 2010
Chantal Barriault Justin So Graduate Diploma in Science Communication Laurentian and Science North 100 Ramsey Lake Road P3E 5S9 email@example.com http://www.sciencecommunication.ca
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010
Note from the editor We are pleased to put out a second issue of the Science Communication Bulletin. Over the past five years we have accumulated many student projects and communication pieces. It is important to showcase these projects to demonstrate the diverse skills and experiences gained by graduates of the program. In this issue, Sarah Rogers (Class of 2006) reports on a discourse analysis of articles on sustainable agriculture in mass media in the paper in “Exploring the public’s potential perception of sustainable agriculture through the communications in print mass media” (pg. 2). Lee Roy (Class of 2009) uses a theoretical framework of planned behaviour to gain insight into how knowledge type influences environmental behaviour in “The environmental behaviour knowledge and environmental actions of Generation X” (pg. 14). These projects are of graduate level research, however they are constrained by the time available to run the research. Nonetheless, these small exploratory studies contain valuable insights into science communication issues that should be shared with fellow researchers, the public and all interested parties. We present two articles published by our students in The Sudbury Star, a local newspaper. Jenn McCallum (Class of 2010) debunks the myths of using Vitamin C to fight colds (Vitamin C, colds and health, pg. 19) and Kevin McAvoy (Class of 2010) describes the latest research on feathered dinosaurs (Our feathered friends, the dinosaurs, pg. 20). In the blog article Don’t be such a scientist… (pg. 21) I (Justin So, Class of 2010), review a book on science communication by Randy Olson. This month James Baxter-Gilbert (Class of 2010) will be giving a talk at the Toronto Zoo at the Social Marketing and Chelonian Sustainability Workshop: Changing Minds to Change the Fate of Turtles. (Using science communication techniques to engage the public, pg. 22). Justin So Co-editor Class of 2010 Graduate Diploma in Science Communication
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010
Research Articles Exploring the public’s potential perception of sustainable agriculture through the communications in print mass media Sarah M. Rogers Abstract Organic agriculture is the fastest growing sector of food production in the world. Because sustainable agricultural practices promote and enhance biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity it will be these techniques to grow food that will ensure the human race‟s future food security. Scientific findings support the claim that sustainable agriculture will ensure food security and ecological harmony. Accommodating the science information of sustainable agriculture to lay audiences properly and wholly is imperative to producing a knowledgeable and aware public. My research question asks: what is the potential influence of mass media's coverage of sustainable agriculture on the public's perception of this practice? It was answered through qualitative methods, more specifically, a content and discourse analysis of twenty articles from top profile print mass media sources. My research demonstrated that mass media is communicating many topics related to and within the topic of sustainable agriculture as represented by the vast number of emergent themes and the resulting detailed code tree. Content analysis found that four primary categories of themes are being communicated about sustainable agriculture. They are: business, politics, social factors and science & technology. Although many important topics are covered, there are still many topics not covered. Discourse analysis found that the topic of sustainable agriculture is very complex and the messages tend to be mixed up and lack coherence. In some cases, journalists have failed to communicate the science & technology topics accurately and wholly, which suggests that the public is confused about this method of farming since they are not receiving all the information regarding it. Finally, a trend found from the analyses suggests that communications of sustainable agriculture are hierarchical in nature: cost presides over health factors which preside over environmentallyrelated issues. Keywords: public perception, organic, sustainable agriculture, mass media Introduction The human race is dependent on food for nourishment, energy and survival. For decades we have farmed the land, unknowing of what harm we may be causing in return for all that it gives us. Organic farming promotes sustainability, food safety and food nutrition (Edwards et al. 1990; Horne & McDermott, 2001; Caron, 2005). There is much science in organic agriculture that needs to be communicated to the general
public in order for it to be understood and embraced (Caron, 2005). According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) organic agriculture is defined as: “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity” (Edwards et al. 1990; Horne & McDermott, 2001; Caron, 2005). Organic agriculture is rooted in the principles of minimal use of off-farm
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 inputs and concentrates on management practices that strive to restore, maintain, or enhance ecological harmony (Edwards et al. 1990; Horne & McDermott, 2001; McIntyre, 2003; Caron, 2005). A primary goal of organic agriculture practice is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people (Edwards et al. 1990; Horne & McDermott, 2001; McIntyre, 2003; Caron, 2005). Organic agriculture is the fastest growing sector of food production in the world (Caron, 2005). In different parts of the world there has been heightened awareness for careful use of the natural resource base on which agriculture depends for ensuring the world‟s future crop production. With concerns over the effects of climate change, a global plan of action agreed upon at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) requires attention. Three International Conventions which have a bearing on sustainable agriculture include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The World Food Summit Plan of Action (WFSPA), which was developed in 1996, includes several commitments to make agricultural production sustainable (Sivakumar et al. 2000). Food security is a primary concern today, and it will be so in the future because of the contradiction between the increases in human population and rising standards of living, and the limitation of natural resources (Zhang et al. 2002). Agriculture is an important aspect of human activity that profoundly influences the global environment, such as atmospheric chemistry, water quality and quantity, and nutrient cycles (Zhang et al. 2002). For example, nitrogen fertilizer production, application and crop biological fixation have doubled the transfer of nitrogen from the atmosphere to biologically available pools substantially increasing nitrogenous gas emissions to the atmosphere (Vitousek et al. 1997). It is estimated that 80% of nitric oxide (NO), nearly 70% of ammonia (NH3) and more than 40% of nitrous oxide (N2O) emitted globally are a result of human activities (Vitousek et al. 1997). Agriculture accounts for 92% of the total anthropogenic emissions of N2O (Duxbury et al. 1993). Agricultural activity can also increase carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere by increasing soil decomposition rates and burning plant biomass (Zhang et al. 2002). Paddy rice fields are also a contributing source of atmospheric methane (CH4) (Zhang et al. 2002). It is estimated that agriculture accounts for 26 and 65% of the total anthropogenic emissions of CO2 and CH4, respectively (Duxbury et al. 1993). All of the above are contributing “greenhouse” gases, retaining solar radiation in the atmosphere and therefore, adding to the issue of climate change. Balancing food production and environmental protection, predicting the impacts of climate change or alternative management on both food production and
environmental safety in agroecosystems are drawing great attention in the scientific community because of the threat climate change poses (Zhang et al. 2002). The topic of agricultural practices and sustainability involves many communities of people and space. Politicians, farmers, government, consumers and the earth are all involved in this issue. Each group has a vested interest given their lifestyle, beliefs and careers. Because of the breadth of people this issue reaches, my research has the potential to benefit many. It will benefit the media, because they will know what information regarding sustainable agriculture is being reported and therefore, be able to identify stories that have yet to be covered; the media are always looking for stories that have yet to be covered. The research will benefit scientists because they will have an understanding of what information is and is not getting to the public from their research. From this they may be able to place more emphasis on recent work, or on critical studies. The research will benefit the public because they can be made aware of persuasive rhetorical devices involved in crafting the articles. Perhaps, most of all, this research will benefit myself, a science communicator with a strong desire to understand what information about this topic is being communicated to the public and how that information is crafted, benefiting my knowledge and future career endeavours. I also agree with other scientists such as Chris Caron, and Sivakumar et al. that this is a topic of utmost concern in today‟s society and should be widely covered by print mass media, especially those termed „top profile‟. There are numerous ethical implications associated with the issue of communicating about sustainable agriculture between the scientists and the public. What information is the public receiving from mass media regarding this critical topic? If communications were strong and effective, we might expect to see more emphasis, concern and action being placed on this issue in our newspapers and magazines. Long-awaited organic certifications would become a priority; farmers would be rewarded for converting to organic practices, and media hype would be surrounding the issue because of organic agriculture‟s connection to the serious issue of climate change. Authors such as Jeanne Fahnestock (1986) have identified a „gap‟ in the communications of science to the public. She discusses the issue of “trying to bridge the enormous gap between the public‟s right to know and the public‟s ability to understand.” Bridging the gap between the communications of the science of sustainable agriculture and the public is an item that will be addressed in my research through the process of discourse analysis. I wish to identify where the gap is in the communications on the topic of sustainable agriculture and answer the objective of my research, what is the potential influence of mass media's coverage of sustainable agriculture on the public's perception of this practice? My research question will be answered
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 through qualitative methods, more specifically, a content analysis of current „top profile‟ print mass media coverage to identify what is being communicated and discourse analysis of the artifacts to understand how it is being communicated. I have found many studies which use this methodology, that is both content analysis and discourse analysis. “Alar and apples: newspapers, risk and media responsibility” by Friedman et al. (1996) is a study of similar aim which employs the use of both content analysis and discourse analysis. In this article, Friedman et al. (1996) review newspaper coverage on the 1989 Alar issue. The goal for their study was to determine whether the method by which the issue was covered by media affected the public‟s perception of risk, and if future improvements could be made based on their findings. To understand this information, similar to my research, they used content analysis to determine what was being communicated regarding the Alar issue, and used discourse analysis to examine how the messages were crafted. In Görke & Ruhrmann‟s (2003) “Public communication between facts and fictions: on the construction of genetic risk,” the researchers used both content analysis and discourse analysis to identify the media‟s role in the construction of messages regarding genetic risk. More precisely, content analysis was used to identify what was being communicated and discourse analysis to identify how the messages were crafted. A third paper by Long (1995) explores how many mass media sources contain science story columns and to what depth the science is discussed within them. Long (1995) states: “mass media are important sources of science information for many adults.” This is a good supporting statement for validating my research and desire to find out more about mass media communications, contents and craft. Through a content analysis of science stories in 100 US newspapers, of which only 70 newspapers carried science stories, she found that a majority of them contained little scientific explanation. This also supports the relevance and importance of my research since, as Long‟s (1995) research found, science stories often report only a part of the whole story. Her methodology consists of both content analysis and discourse analysis. She explores the content of the science stories and the ethos of the source to explore rhetorical functions. Methods Qualitative research methods Qualitative research methods, such as content analysis and discourse analysis, are valuable in providing rich descriptions of complex phenomena, tracking unique or unexpected events and particularly, conducting initial explorations to develop theories (Krippendorff, 2004). Qualitative research, with its emphasis on understanding complex, interrelated and/or changing phenomena, is particularly relevant to the
challenges of understanding the many messages from mass media (Long 1995). Qualitative methods were chosen for this study because they have the ability to answer some questions that quantitative methods cannot, such as the „why‟ of research findings (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Based on my objectives, qualitative analyses are the best research methods to employ. This conclusion was made based upon discussion with research methods course instructor Chantal Barriault and the discovery of similar studies (Long 1995; Friedman et al. 1996; Görke & Ruhrmann, 2003) that used qualitative methods, more specifically, content analysis and discourse analysis, to answer research questions similar to mine in objective. Use of content analysis Content analysis has a good reputation in research methods of being a powerful tool for examining trends and patterns in documents (Krippendorff, 2004). Further, it provides an “empirical basis for monitoring shifts in public opinion,” which is a key goal of my research (Krippendorff, 2004). A content analysis is the most suitable method to answer my research question since it will directly identify the messages that the media have produced. A content analysis will allow me to compare and contrast between artifacts, to gain a holistic understanding of what information is being communicated throughout a variety of sustainable agriculture artifacts. The employment of content analysis to answer my research question is supported in the literature by studies with similar objective (Long 1995; Friedman et al. 1996; Görke & Ruhrmann 2003). Use of discourse analysis Language use is a key dimension to research in science communication because it is a key human activity (Barriault & Spoel, 2006). Studying the “composing process” of these artifacts will assist my understanding of the complex social and/or collaborative dimensions of the writing and/or language process (Barriault & Spoel, 2006). A discourse analysis will identify emerging themes used by mass media to communicate information about sustainable agriculture. This method will allow me to examine the messages of the artifacts and compare these to such things as bias which may or may not be present, or the personal ethos of the source of the artifact. This information will greatly compliment answering the „what‟ (content analysis) part of my research question and provide potential suggestions to supporters of sustainable agriculture to help them best communicate their messages. The employment of discourse analysis to answer my research question is supported in the literature by studies with similar objective (Long 1995; Friedman et al. 1996; Görke & Ruhrmann, 2003). Data collection procedure
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 Top profile magazines in North America were determined by a combination of the results from Masthead online‟s “Top 35 Magazines” list by revenue, NewsLink’s “Top circulation Canadian Magazines” list and the “average circulation for Top 100 ABC Magazines and Circulation for Top 100 BPA Worldwide Magazines;” ABC and BPA are the two main companies that collect circulation statistics. Top profile newspapers in North America were determined by a combination of the results from Editor and Publisher’s “Top 100 US and Top 10 Canadian by circulation,” the Newspaper Association of America’s “Top 50 US newspapers by circulation” and the Canadian Newspaper Association’s “Top 50 Canadian newspapers by circulation” lists. Since there was not a single list outlining precisely what I needed, I made my list of top profile newspapers and magazines using my best judgment of the results from the combined lists mentioned. It should be noted that some lists were reporting weekly circulation statistics and some daily but the difference did not make much of a difference once numbers were converted to similar units. In the interest to keep a relatively equal distribution, I took the top five newspapers and the top five magazines. The final list can be seen in Table 1. Since methodology had to change due to time constraints. The final list was also verified and approved by professors and peers. Some sources were eliminated from the study because their archives were unavailable, or the nature of the source was inappropriate for the purpose of this study. With luck, I had fairly equal representation from both Canadian and American sources. To search within the selected „top profile‟ print media sources I used Laurentian University library‟s online databases which use EBSCOhost as their search engine. To ensure that my searches returned all related information to sustainable agriculture, I searched many other words and phrases which essentially meant the same. For example, “agriculture” can also mean, and be
searched by “farming” and “gardening.” When the keywords were expanded, I found that I was getting a higher number of returns. This was done to increase the breadth of my coverage. Below are the other keywords and phrases that I have also searched. Sustainable/Organic/Alternative/No chemicals/ additives/Pesticide free Collective farming Community supported agriculture Natural food From the searches, all articles that resulted were saved to a master file for random selection. I randomly selected two articles from each source totaling 20 artifacts for analysis. The study was limited to 20 due to time allowed for conducting this project. All selected articles were read over to ensure at least 80% relevance to the topic of sustainable agriculture. Eighty percent relevance was determined by frequency of key words and the overall purpose of the story. All the above was discussed and collectively decided upon with peers and professors. Limitations to the methodology There are some limitations to qualitative research methods. Qualitative research is exploratory, meaning the researcher is inferring outcomes. There are no hard numbers coming out of the study. Qualitative research also does not confirm a hypothesis in comparison to quantitative research. To ensure reliability in the coding process associated with the content analysis section of my methods, the process of coding has been thoroughly described with examples provided. Another limitation is that one coder means one opinion, therefore no multiple comparisons. Finally, there is a limited scope of project due to time restrictions. Therefore, I will not be able to look at all mass media, just print and “top profile” media sources. Because my print mass media sources were decided based on their being “top profile” the question where articles are found vs. where they are not found
Table 1: Modified top ten newspaper and magazines in North America by circulation. Newspapers Magazines 1. USA Today
2. Wall Street Journal
3. New York Times
4. Toronto Star
4. National Geographic
5. The Globe and Mail
5. The Economist
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 can no longer be answered, and would have been interesting to discover, and perhaps would be a good idea for continuing this onto a master‟s degree one day. Data analysis: content analysis Qualitative data analysis, such as content analysis, is a continuous, iterative process which begins nearly at the same time as data collection (Miles & Huberman, 1994; Barriault, 1998; Krippendorff, 2004). Content analysis is a systematic, replicable, and rich technique for compressing many words of text into few content categories based on explicit rules of coding (Krippendorff, 2004). There are six questions (Barriault & Spoel, 2006) which a content analysis must address, which I believe to have thoroughly addressed in both the “data collection” and “data analysis” sections. For my research, each article was qualitatively analysed by coding to pull out emergent themes following methodology outlined in Krippendorff (2004) and Miles & Huberman (1994). The emergent themes found are essentially the greater understanding of what one could expect the public is aware of with regards to the topic of sustainable agriculture and answer questions like: what information is being communicated vs. what is not. Memoing in the margins of articles was also used to mark elements of interest, points where coding proved difficult and/or to mark thoughts and reactions that came during the process. Details of memoing techniques can be found in Krippendorff (2004) and Miles & Huberman (1994). Following methods of Miles & Huberman (1994), half of the articles were coded once over, then before proceeding, the codes were re-evaluated a second time to verify the accuracy of the coding structure before continuing to finish coding all articles. Since coding is an iterative process, the code tree was constantly revised throughout the coding process, but this initial check for accuracy ensures that there was no need to change any of the major categories which could lead to complications and inaccuracy in coding (Miles & Huberman, 1994; Krippendorff, 2004). All codes in all articles were verified a minimum of three times. It was found that by the third time over coding the articles, the information was “exhausted;” and the “data language represented all recording units without exception” which is essential to ensuring accuracy of the coding process (Barriault & Spoel, 2006). Data analysis: discourse analysis The rhetorical analysis‟ structure was built based on the emergent themes presented from the content analysis. Major findings of the content analysis were then discussed with Dr. Philippa Spoel who can be considered an expert in rhetorical functions. Together, we determined which elements could be further explored and best give more depth and insight of the findings from the content analysis. Due to time constraints for my study, only a few key elements were
selected to frame this portion of discussion in my study. Specifically, story lines which frame the articles were analysed as well as the oratorical forms/types of epideictic and forensic were used to explore methods of persuasion. Stasis theory was used as a tool to explore where the communications of sustainable agriculture were in the practical system of ordered questions represented by stasis theory. The various authorities highlighted in stories were also examined to discover where and from whom messages were originating and contributing to a story‟s content. Results and discussion Content analysis The process of coding proved to be a very interesting and enlightening experience. The task was difficult and took a lot of time to continuously check and re-check codes to structure the code tree (Table 2). When I had completed three quarters of my coding, the code tree finally became much more solid requiring fewer changes and proved to be efficient at representing the messages from the text. The process of coding was a remarkable tool which enabled me to establish an organized and focused set of categories that represent the key themes emergent from the articles. On a greater scale the categories represent a more concise framework of the information being communicated through mass media. Coding is structured such that the first code assigned to a given grouping of text is the most general description for an emergent theme. I will refer to these as first degree codes and they are in the furthest left column of the code tree (Table 2). The coding process identified four first degree codes, they are: Science and technology Social Business Political Each first degree code, or category, or emergent theme, is broken down to second degree codes or categories. Each second degree code is broken down to third degree codes and so on gradually becoming more specific until the code has become exhausted or, specific enough to clearly express the topic of the given grouping of text. Once the idea and message of a grouping of text has been assigned a combination of codes, it now can be called an emergent theme. During the initial stages of coding I had more than just four first degree codes. However, as coding proceeded it was found that these codes either failed, because they didn‟t represent the data adequately or, they fitted better into another category. Some first degree codes had more subsequent codes than other categories, but that result is dependent on how the messages emerged through the process of coding to
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010
Table 2: Code Tree displaying emergent themes from the data. Short form codes found bolded in brackets beside. 1st Degree Code
2nd Degree Code
Economics (ECON) Business (BUS) Public Relations (PR)
Government Players (GOV)
3rd Degree Code
4th Degree Code
Profits/Income (INC) Grocery Stores (GRO) Higher costs of organics (HIGH) Food Security (FOO) Take-overs (TAK)
Relationship/Partnership Building (REL)
Public Awareness (PA)
Increasing popularity/demand (POP) Promotion (ION)
Events (EVE) Activism, Rights (ACT) Lack of policy, certification (LACK) Subsidies not favouring organics (SUB) The Economy (THE) Definition of “organic” and “sustainable” agriculture (DEF) Opinions (OPI)
Climate Change (CC)
Environmental Protection (CP) Research and Development (RD)
Science and Technology (ST)
Chemical Use (CHEM)
Advancements in (ADV) GMOs (GMO)
Social Action (SA) Culture/Tradition (CUL) Education (EDU) Social (SOC)
Emotion (EMO) Citizenry (CIT) Public Interest Groups (PUB) Leadership (LEAD) Moral/Values (VAL) Consumer Awareness (CA) Anecdotal (story telling) (ANC) Perspectives (PER) Well-being (WELL)
Health (HEA) Nutrition (NUT)
Confusion (CON) Against organic/sustainable agriculture (NO) Confusion/Misunderstanding (MIS) Preventative/reducing impact measures (PRE) Kyoto Protocol (KYO) Opinion (PIN) Sustainability (SUS) Researchers (REA) Case Study (CS) Pesticides (CIDE) Herbicides (HERB) Fungicide (FUNG) Pests (PEST) Disease (DIS) Animal Wellness (WEL)
Happy (HAP) Angry (ANG) Sad (SAD) Concern (CER)
Environmental Responsibility (ER)
Philosophy of organic farming (PHIL) Stereotypes (STE) Safety behind production of organics (SAF) Questioning (QUES) Taste (TAS)
Co-ops (COOP) Apprenticeship programs (APP) Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farmers (FRM)
Alternative Practices (ALT) Skills/Expertise (SKI)
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 shape the code tree and best represent the data. In many cases, four codes seemed sufficient enough to represent the emergent theme of a grouping of text. This may have been due to the size of groupings of text I took, or any other number of reasons that are not within the scope of this research to determine. Science and Technology One of the first and most popular emergent themes in “science and technology” involved mentioning pesticides which became a fourth degree code. By increasing generality to its third degree code, “chemical use” and even more general, its second degree code, “environment,” it was found that if chemical use was mentioned, most often it was in reference to “pesticides” with little or no mention of any of the other “cides,” such as fungicides, insecticides or herbicides. Building on that result, it was noticed through the process of memoing that chemical use is one element that no story omits from discussion in either a positive or negative nature. Another item that many stories commonly paired with conversation of pesticides was fertilizers. I chose, however, not to make a separate fourth degree code for it because fertilizer was never the sole focus of a substantial section of text (substantial being at least two sentences). This reasoning explains why any item might not be mentioned in any part of the code tree. USA Today (Unknown, 1999), was the only source that had a substantial (at least 80%) amount of content within an article that was coded as science and technology. This article is the exception to all other articles I looked at that never had science and technology as its major focus. Fortunately, USA Today has the capacity to write an article that concentrates on communicating the important science and technology matters because they have one of the highest readership ratings. However, is it fair to ask why there is a lack in communication of the sciences in all the other sources I analysed since my sample was relatively small? It has been recognized that this is a limitation to this study and it would be interesting to evaluate the frequency of true science and technology categorization in future studies in hopes of finding out if from a larger sample science and technology content increases. At times during coding most sections of text would mention something within the nature of science and technology, but refrain from getting specific enough to be classified as science and technology. For example, the following section of text from Sonia Nazario‟s article in the Wall Street Journal appears to be of science and technology nature, but really the underlying frame and tone relates more to social factors. “In recent years, organic farmers have had at their disposal bacteria that make worms explode, natural soaps that can be used as pesticides and a range of beneficial pests that will prey on bugs harmful to their crops. Generally speaking, organic farmers shun synthetic chemicals and fertilizers and rely on crop
rotation, manure and biological methods to control pests and increase yields.” The final code for this section was Social-FarmingFarmers-Alternative practices (SOC-FARM-FRMALT). Perhaps this result relates to the growing concern of science being “dumbed down” to the public as mentioned by Gregory & Miller (1998) in their book Science in Public: Communication, Culture, and Credibility. A key example of the intimidation science triggers within journalists and perhaps causes them to dumb it down is the passage I found in the Toronto Star (1991) article by Russell McNeil. McNeil (1991) mentions current research and development, but does not go any further to elaborate on how the research is being carried out, what the details both scientific and non are and what exactly the benefit of this science is to the public. Instead, McNeil (1991) keeps the information vague and reviews it positively although appearing not to fully understand its function: “A Saskatchewan research study last year found that organic farmers can do better than their conventional counterparts. […] Saskatchewan farmers interested in switching to organic techniques are watching a new Saskatchewan Research Council study designed to provide more reliable data about this industry. This study will involve monitoring 12 organic farms over a three-year period.” The situations where science is being dumbed down are of utmost concern. People should not be asked to make educated decisions that affect issues in their life when they do not have an understanding of the science concepts involved and when sources, like mass media to aid in making their decisions only communicate part of the whole quantity of information. This topic is worth further discussion but not feasible to accommodate within the context of this paper. Neglecting most messages of science and technology was a common theme of this research. However, the message of how the earth must be protected through sustainable practices and the need for greater protection of our resources was consistently communicated throughout the articles. This emergent theme fit under the umbrella of science and technology and although highly mentioned, was always overshadowed by cost, which is one of the most highly repeated emergent themes and fit under the umbrella of business. Business Article after article evaluated and weighed the pros and cons of cost, a business topic, versus nutrition, food safety and taste, all social topics. In nearly every article, authors claimed that the taste difference, was negligible, nutritional value was no better and that safety behind organics was debatable. This trend can be seen in a story from The Economist (2003): “Several studies have compared the taste of organic food to that of conventional food, but have failed to
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 establish that either is better. Nor is there evidence that organic food is healthier. According to Sir John [head of Britain‟s Food Standards Agency], „the current scientific evidence does not show that organic food is any safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food‟.” The reasons presented from the passage illustrate the response most authors throughout my research had: that the higher cost of organics was not worthwhile. The bottom line with these arguments is that they make excuses for not acknowledging the solution to the concerns expressed by authors for the need to protect the earth and its resources. This solution to the problem being ignored is the employment of sustainable agriculture: the production of organics. Whether or not there is a difference deemed to be significant enough in organics as far as nutrition, safety and taste goes, the fact that current farming practices are unsustainable and will destroy our ability to farm and produce food to sustain human life cannot be contested and it will happen sooner than we think. Perhaps this discovery illuminates where authors perceive people‟s preferences lie, that health will rank higher on the list of importance than the environment, otherwise, the environmental benefits of sustainable agriculture would be reason enough to pay more for organics and the discussions of nutrition, safety and taste would not be needed. Political With today‟s concern regarding climate change, discussions of sustainable agriculture should be involved since scientists have published the assistance these methods provide in reducing the harmful effects of climate change. However, the connection between sustainable farming methods and climate was only made once in the same article I previously mentioned being primarily framed in science and technology. USA Today (1999) carefully illustrates to the reader that sustainable agriculture “can preserve carbon and nitrogen in the soil, thus reducing emissions.” The article continues: “Moreover, they [researchers at the Rodale Institute] maintain that organic methods can produce the same yields as conventional systems that use synthetic fertilizer. If the major corn/soybean growing region of the U.S. were to adopt these organic practices, they say, the percentage of estimated annual carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion in the nation could be reduced by one to two percent.” At the end of the article, the relationship to the Kyoto protocol was even mentioned in quoting another researcher at the Rodale Institute: “This [reducing the fossil fuel emissions associated to conventional farming methods] would be a significant contribution in light of the Kyoto protocol, equivalent to the total carbon dioxide emissions for countries like Iraq, Egypt, Greece, Denmark, and Sweden.”
It seemed more important to construct an article which discussed the definition of organic agriculture and what sustainable methods incorporated than to make this connection to the role sustainable agriculture will play in the bigger picture and current crises such as climate change. This type of emergent theme was placed into the political category because essentially, it is in the hands of policy and decision makers to generate a definition that can in-turn be used as a guideline for determining allocation of such things as subsidies. Many articles actually make the point to mention that there is no financial reward currently for farmers to convert to more sustainable methods. This is happening when simultaneously messages from the research industry are clear to say that sustainable farming is the all-around better choice for the earth and for human health. Indeed there should be governance of this issue especially when the business markets are demanding more sources for organically produced foods. Social Contrary to how the journalists are portraying organics negatively because of their higher associated cost in the grocery store, small pockets of people are quite literally “eating up” the bountiful quantities of organics now stocked and more accessible to them than ever before. This was a consistent emergent theme throughout my data. To meet these new demands of the public the organics business is booming. Laced with concern were the emergent themes of social nature from the farmers. Farmers are crying out for better legislation to control the number of organic farms allowed to be classed as organic. According to veteran organic farmers: “It is as much a philosophy as it is a practice, and the farms that are getting faulty certification and claim to be farming organically miss the point of it altogether.” It seems that as much as these expert organic farmers want to see organic farming proliferate, they want their industry and “sacred philosophy” to be understood and not be undermined by the appeal and attraction to big money. The story line of people asking “what exactly is organic?” plays a large role and, in some cases takes on the entire theme of an article. Further discussion on the outcome and affect of this story line‟s popularity is best addressed when deconstructing the rhetorical features involved and therefore can be found discussed in more detail in that section of this paper. Farmers are quite satisfied with their own techniques of continuing the livelihood and philosophy of sustainable practices. Unique to their own culture of farming and definitely an emergent theme from the research are the personal account stories of people learning life on an organic farm. For example, author
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 Margot Roosevelt‟s (2003) article “Fresh off the Farm” in Time magazine narrates the experience of cooperative farm networks. Roosevelt (2003) captures one of the “shareholders” experiences of being part of processes involved in getting food to the table: “When you help the people who grow your food, it is spiritually as well as physically nourishing.”
a story about sustainable agriculture in one of three ways. The other possibility is that the information from the gurus is not being communicated clearly and therefore the journalists do not understand the information being given to them, limiting the types of stories they can write. Providing answers to this question is not within the scope of this project, however, but would be of interest to pursue in the future.
These stories highlight the available opportunities through apprenticeship and cooperative networks. Also popular are the CSA‟s, Community Supported Agricultural networks, where communities all invest in a local farm and take responsibility at times when weeds need to be pulled to harvesting an overflowing basket of organically grown veggies to take home for dinner. The social nature of this story line represents and helps to account for the large number of emergent themes in this categorization. The discovery of the wealth of socialbased emergent themes is very interesting and is given further discussion in the rhetorical analysis portion of this paper. Sourcing was another emergent theme I found of interest through the process of memoing. I noted several times a thematic affiliation of the article with its source. For example, both the articles from the Economist had a very strong business theme unlike the articles from Chatelaine that had a strong social theme. This can likely be a result of authors writing the story that best responds to their audience which inevitably makes their messages stronger. What concerns me with this finding is that with that being the case, the typical businessman reading the Economist business-savvy articles will be less likely to ever hear anything other than that part of the whole story in sustainable agriculture.
Personal experience story line The first story line consists of the personal experience of or interaction with sustainable agriculture. These stories typically involve a journalist writing his or her reflections of time spent on a farm that employs organic methods and philosophy. The other approach to this story is a journalist interviewing many people who have either switched or begun to farm organically and their employees who are typically staying onsite and assisting with the farming in return for room and board. In the story “Reaping the Knowledge Sown on an Organic Farm,” in the Globe and Mail , author Shannon Moneo (2006) describes the personal motives and lifestyle of Ms. Nagaskaka, an organic farmer:
Discourse analysis The rhetorical analysis has increased the depth of my understanding of the emergent themes resulting from the content analysis. Examining the rhetorical devices reveals aspects of article construction and provides insight on the elements of suasion that are otherwise overlooked in content analysis. Understanding the rhetorical functions helps not only to solidify my understanding of communicated messages, but answer more clearly my research question.
Business story line The second story line takes a strong business approach to communicating about sustainable agriculture. These stories typically involve a journalist writing about facts, figures, economic statistics, revenues, profits or anything money related in business and market “talk.” In the story “Whetting the appetite for organic food” in Maclean’s, author Katherine Macklem (2004) spends much time boasting about income and revenues of this expanding industry:
Story lines It became quite apparent from the results of the content analysis that there are three main “story lines,” into which nearly all my articles could be categorized. This observation is interesting because it indicates that the information about sustainable agriculture in mass media is being told through one of the three story lines. This may also indicate that the information from the sustainable agriculture “gurus”, (scientists, farmers, researchers, advocates, etc.) is limited. Due to limited information, the journalists can only find a way to write
“demand has been climbing strongly for years, and experts expect the pace to quicken […] Organic food is still only a niche business in the vast agri-food universe – in 2002, it totaled about two per cent of Canada’s $64-billion market […] Agriculture Canada estimates that organic sales are growing by 20 per cent a year and will reach $3.1 billion in 2005.”
“what drew her was the lifestyle, being in tune with the seasons and having her actions dictated by nature […] Its [apprenticeship program] aim is to encourage sustainable agriculture, expose apprentices to rural life and support farmers […] This season, Ms. Nagaskaka wants to bring in pigs to join the resident chickens. She might even help build a solar shower.” All these statements are very typical of the style found in the personal account story line.
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 The statements found in these articles are much like the ones I‟ve exampled, focusing on numbers, such elements as profits and industry projections. Oratorical Setting: Epideictic Both of these two story lines can also be described in another manner that is known to rhetorical studies which also reveals more insight into the craft of the articles. Aristotle wrote about three oratorical settings which help describe the structure of arguments, such as the three story lines I have found from my research. The first and second story lines which I have described both employ what Aristotle referred to as an epideictic form but each approaches the form from a different perspective. This form is very celebratory in the nature of its suasion, placing emphasis on value and virtue, highlighting the “wonder appeal” related to the topic of discussion. The wonder appeal serves the epideictic celebratory nature that journalists use to increase the significance and uniqueness of the science they are accommodating into the print mass media (Fahnestock, 1986). Improving the uniqueness encourages audiences to marvel at the science being communicated and in turn persuades the audience to a given perspective being presented by the journalist (Fahnestock, 1986). The first narrative, the personal account story line, celebrates self-education and the feeling of goodness that sustaining the earth brings as well as the mindfulness of taking control of one‟s health. In the Globe and Mail story Moneo (2006) describes the endless self-motivation of a veteran farmer: “Organic farmer Mary Alice Johnson’s hourly wage amounts to chicken feed, but with each passing year her desire to be outside, working the land, grows.” Whereas the second narrative, the business story line, celebrates a booming industry, profits and money galore as well as foreign trade opportunities and financial prosperity. In the Maclean’s story Macklem (2004), emphasizes the greatness of the booming organic industry: “Companies such as Vancouver cereal-maker Nature’s Path and Toronto baker ShaSha Bread Co., whose products are popular domestically and whose export sales to the U.S. are skyrocketing.” The importance of this finding acknowledges the fact that two of the three main story lines being given to the public from mass media create a very positive, encouraging and, of course, celebratory image in the reader‟s mind. Exemplified by the Maclean’s and the Globe articles, it can be seen that these two story lines value sustainable agriculture (although for very different reasons) and create an overall positive image. Further,
the use of honourific language throughout the articles was a secondary method in which the celebratory nature of these accounts is reinforced. Hypothetically, even if a member of the public only ever read one article regarding sustainable agriculture, my research shows that the chances are that article will be one that highlights and frames sustainable agriculture in a positive light; this inevitably is a good thing. Investigative story line If a reader did not encounter either a personal account or a business story line, they may have read the third story line I found, the investigative story. These stories typically involve a journalist questioning “what is sustainable agriculture,” “how it benefits the public,” “what is the definition of organic agriculture,” “is organic food more nutritious by comparison or not” and so on. This argument falls under Aristotle‟s oratorical setting of forensic. This involves elements of process, the deconstructive and exploratory nature of questioning the meaning of sustainable agriculture. In the story “Trade Group Seeks to End Confusion over what Exactly is Organic Farming” in the Wall Street Journal, author Robin Goldwyn Blumenthal (1989) captures some organic farmers‟ testimonies of what they know some people to think sustainable agriculture is: “some think it means you’ve got a couple of acres and you’re growing some cute little vegetables […] There are at least 17 state definitions for what can be called organically grown food […] Consumers who buy products stamped ‘organically grown’ aren’t always sure what they’re getting for the premium they’re paying.” Clearly, what organic/sustainable agriculture means is not clear. Yet, articles like Moneo‟s (2006) in the Globe, and Macklem‟s (2004) in Maclean’s treat the topic of sustainable agriculture as if it is known and understood. This point of contradiction becomes more apparent when placing the arguments into the practical system of ordered questions represented by stasis theory. Stasis theory In rhetorical criticism, stasis theory is a useful tool for exploring the communications of sustainable agriculture (Fahnestock, 1986; Crowley and Hawhee, 2004). The communications of sustainable agriculture can be placed within one of the four stases which compose stasis theory. The articles have placed the communications of sustainable agriculture in very interesting places of stasis theory. The peculiarity about the discussions of sustainable agriculture I have found through my research is that two of the story lines are at different places in stasis theory. The personal account and business story lines are at the
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 third stases, attempting to answer the question of quality, “what is the quality of the act, is it right or wrong?” (Fahnestock, 1986; Crowley and Hawhee, 2004). Whereas, the investigative story line is at the second stases, attempting to answer the question of definition, “how can the act be defined?” (Fahnestock, 1986; Crowley and Hawhee, 2004). The difficulty and peculiarity with this, is two-fold. The difficulty stems from the fact that meaningful discussion about sustainable agriculture cannot be pursued if we cannot define and agree on what constitutes sustainable agriculture. The peculiarity is how the first two story lines are being written when no agreed definition exists for sustainable agriculture. How can they be discussing quality regarding sustainable agriculture when we do not know what it is and how it is defined. This finding leads me to believe that the public must be confused. The conflicting messages from mass media and the different points of discussion they employ must confuse the public. It would then be fair to say that the associated confusion of sustainable agriculture must also inhibit it from being popularized, accepted and revered by the public. With no universally agreed upon definition for sustainable agriculture it may also be difficult for the public to understand how it is often referred to as being “traditional,” “the work of our ancestors,” and “passed down from previous generations.” All these statements imply a long-lived mainly static activity being centuries old. But this idea conflicts with the wealth of articles framing the investigation of defining sustainable agriculture. How can they say that this is the work of our ancestors and that it employs many traditional values and techniques when we do not know what it is and how it is defined. For example, in Macklem‟s (2004) article she uses the description, “fourthgeneration farmer […] of conventional methods” to emphasize the long-lived nature of organic. In Moneo‟s (2006) article she implies the art of tradition through her narrative and her concern for the knowledge base not being transferred to new generations with the death of organic farmers since: “So many farmers are getting old […] we need a way to transfer their knowledge base. For the past decade, she [Mary Alice Johnson, organic farmer] has been sharing her skills through a national program that matches farmers with apprentices interested in learning how to grow and market organic food.” Again, I am lead to believe that the conflicting message of sustainable agriculture being traditional from the mass media further confuses and hinders the public‟s ability to understand sustainable agriculture properly and wholly. Building more on the confusion surrounding the task of defining sustainable agriculture is the belief of many
farmers who practice sustainable methods and gurus of the technique that it is indefinable, because it is a philosophy. For example Blumenthal‟s (1989) article relays the beliefs of Neill Schaller, program director in the U.S. Department of Agriculture that: “Organic farming is a cause, a movement, almost a religion […] the reason you can’t come up with a definition for organic is that it’s as much a way of thinking, a philosophy, as it is a way of farming.” Statements such as these are very common throughout all of my articles. This is a very strong emergent theme found throughout coding in my content analysis and now through exploring the rhetorical function of this language it seems that it can only be adding to the confusion about the messages of sustainable agriculture communicated to the public. Authorities Another important element to consider of rhetorical nature are the authorities mentioned in the articles. From my content analysis I found that there is a definite separation of authorities based upon different opinions and vested interests for sustainable agriculture. For example, there are authorities from business and authorities with a political background. The authorities that the journalists chose to quote, mention, or highlight in their articles is a result of answering questions like, “who is my audience for the article?” “What is currently popular in this topic?” “Who is the spokesperson of key information” and “who can the public best relate to?” The type of authority is integral to supporting a particular story line and appealing to the sources‟ specific audience. The key authorities in the personal account story line are typically farmers who give personal testimonies of involvement and experience. These authorities highlighted in articles will affect the reader differently than the authorities typical of the business story line. In business stories, experts, businessmen, government and bureaucrats are used as opposed to farmers to appeal and per or dissuade the audience. There seems to be no popular authority mentioned in the investigative story lines and the kinds of authorities the journalists use contribute to creating a persuasive story. The chosen authorities mostly offer only one partial perspective on the discussion of sustainable agriculture which is also a very powerful mode of persuasion. Above all, the most interesting authority I found in my research was what I am calling the “celebrity authority.” It was very common in many of my articles to drop a celebrity‟s name and express their support for the sustainable agriculture cause in their narrative. For example, in Macklem‟s (2004) article Prince Charles is mentioned to be supporting the organic industry and providing “royal sponsorship as one of his pet causes.” Prince Charles‟
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 advocacy for organics is mentioned in several articles along with the support of other celebrities. Does this observation provide insight into the human mind of reason making? Does the public need to have “big names, big stars, celebrities” to endorse something such as sustainable agriculture for it to become popular in society and accepted as an all-around better way of food production? These are very interesting questions that would be fascinating to answer, but the scope and timeframe of this project limits any further exploration. One last point of confusion I wish to discuss is that of financial nature related to these authorities. The authorities/key players/characters of the business story line rave about how much money is in the organics industry. In Macklem‟s (2004) article they elaborate on how big the business is getting and how it will be a “multi-billion dollar industry sooner rather than later.” But, in Moneo‟s (2006) article they elaborate on how many farmers claim to: “not be making much money,” to be “farming the land sustainably for reasons of moral value to them, not for the money,” and of the opinion that it is “their responsibility to the land to protect it, and therefore nurture it and cherish the food it gives in return.” The representation of organics being “big money” and portrayal that the money in the business is everywhere is misleading. There seems to be big money at the industry level, but at the farming level, most are not making that much money, they are in it for different reasons. It appears that these two different story lines cause the public to likely have more questions than answers after reading the media articles. Whether the industry is actually making tonnes of money or not would appeal mostly to the business audience; perhaps it is why it is framed that way in Maclean’s, but ultimately the message of money needs to be clearer for all audiences to truly understand who is making the big money and who is not. The rhetorical analysis greatly increased the depth to which I could explore the messages presented in the mass media emergent from the content analysis. The analysis has lead me to believe that the public‟s perception of sustainable agriculture is likely unclear. Perhaps the conflicting messages, lack of coherence and the undefined character of sustainable agriculture are attributable to the complexity of the topic. Conclusion In conclusion to my exploratory research of people‟s perceptions of sustainable agriculture as influenced by the communications from mass media, I have learned much and gained great insight into the complexity of this situation. My research has demonstrated: The information being communicated regarding sustainable agriculture can fit within four major categories: science and technology, social, business and political. Mass media is communicating many topics related and within the topic of sustainable
13 agriculture as represented by the vast amount of emergent themes and the resulting detailed code tree. Although many important topics are covered, there are still many topics not covered. Through discourse analysis, and rhetorical devices to explore the messages presented by mass media, it can be seen that the topic of sustainable agriculture is very complex. In some cases, journalists have failed to communicate it accurately and wholly because of conflicting messages and an overall lack of coherence between and within articles. That communications of sustainable agriculture are hierarchical in nature. Cost presides over health factors which preside over environmentally-related issues.
I found great value in employing qualitative methods which have the ability to explore the “why” of a research question. My research suggests that the public is confused about the topic of sustainable agriculture. The public may well be unsure of what benefits to the earth and themselves may result by advocating for this method of farming. This conclusion eases my frustrations about why sustainable agriculture and therefore organics has not become popularized or is being popularized in North America. References Barnaby, F. (2000, May 6). Organic farming gets respect; once derided as a hippie fad, it may yet save the family farm. Toronto Star, pp. H05. Barriault, C. 1998. The science centre learning experience: A visitor-based framework. M.Sc. Thesis. pp. 65. Barriault, C. and Spoel, P. 2006. SCOM 5116 Class Lecture Notes. February 1. Blumenthal, R.G. (1989, August 7). Trade group seeks to end confusion over what exactly is organic farming. Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition), pp. 1. Burros, M. (1989, March 29). A growing harvest of organic produce. New York Times, pp. C1, C10. Burros, M. (2000, April 12). Betting the Farm On a New-Age Vision. New York Times, pp. F1, F12. Caron, C. 2005. Proceedings of the 5th Annual Northern Ontario Organic Conference & Introduction to Ecological Agriculture Workshop. December 2nd, 2005. Sudbury Ontario Canada. Crowley, S. and Hawhee, D. 2004. Ancient Rhetorics for contemporary students. Third Ed. Pearson, Longman. Toronto, 2004. De Lafayette, J. (2004, August 2). Goodbye to grub street: Organic fruit farming sounded wholesome - but: In reality it was a seedy world of invisible assaults and microscopic murderers. Globe & Mail, pp. A12. Duxbury, J.M., Harper, L.A., Mosier, A.R. 1993. Contributions of agroecosystems to global climate change. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. Agricultural ecosystem effects on trace gases and global climate Change. ASA Special Publication No. 55, Madison, WI, pp. 1–18.
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 Edwards, C.A., Lal, R., Madden, P., Miller, R.H. and House, G. 1990. Sustainable Agricultural Systems. Soil and Water Conservation Society. USA. Ellis, W.S. (1991, February). Harvest of change [Central Valley]. National Geographic, 179, 48-73. Fahnestock, J. 1986. Accommodating science: The rhetorical life of scientific facts. Written Communication. 3.(3). pp. 275-296. Friedman, S.M., Villamil, K., Suriano, R.A. and Egolf, B.P. 1996. Alar and apples: newspapers, risk and media responsibility. Public Understanding of Science. 5. pp. 120. Ganguly, M. (2002, August 26). Seeds of Self-Reliance. Time, 160(9), 34. Görke, A. and Ruhrmann. G 2003. Public communication between facts and fictions: on the construction of genetic risk. Public Understanding of Science. 12. pp. 229-241. Gregory, Jane and Miller, S. 1998. Science in Public: Communication, Culture, and Credibility. Basic Books. pp. 19-51 Hennessy, J. (2001, April). Is organic better? Chatelaine, 74(4), 60-65. Horne, J.E. and McDermott, M. 2001. The Next Green Revolution. Essential Steps to a Healthy, Sustainable Agriculture. Food Products Press. New York. Klinkenborg, V. (1995, December). A farming revolution. National Geographic, 188, 60-89. Krippendorff, K. 2004. Content Analysis: An Introduction to its Methodology. London: Sage Publications. Long, M. 1995. Scientific explanation in US newspaper science stories. Public Understanding of Science. 4. pp. 119-130. Macklem, K. (2004, January 26). Whetting the appetite for organic food. Maclean's, 117(4), 28-29. Macqueen, K. (2003, July 1). Naturally Delicious. Maclean's, 116(26), 76.
McIntyre, L. 2003. Food Security: More than a Determinant of Health. Policy Options. March 2003. McNeil, R. (1991, January 20). Seeds grown by organic food buffs in '60s finally become a cash crop. Toronto Star, pp. B6. Miles, M. B. & Huberman, A.M. 1994. Qualitative Data Analysis: An expanded Source Book., London: Sage Publications. Moneo, S. (2006, February 2). Reaping the knowledge sown on an organic farm. Globe & Mail, pp. S3. Nazario, S.L. (1989, March 21). Big Firms Get High on Organic Farming - Pesticide Scare Reinforces Shift In Techniques. Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition), pp. 1. Peters, D. (2005, March). Natural selection. Chatelaine, 78(5), 107-108,110,112. Roosevelt, M. (2003, November 3). Fresh off the Farm. Time, 162(18), 60-61. Sivakumar M.V.K., Gommes, R. and Baier, W. 2000. Agrometeorology and sustainable agriculture. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 103. pp. 11-26. The Economist (US). (1989, November 4). Green land. Economist Newspaper Ltd., 313, pp. 36. The Economist (US). (2003, December 13). Organic? Don‟t panic. Economist Newspaper Ltd., 369, pp. 12. Unknown. (1994, June). Animal agriculture critics are wrong. USA Today Magazine, 122(2589), 10-11. Unknown. (1999, June). Organic Fertilizer Can Cut Greenhouse Gases. USA Today Magazine, 127(2649), 15. Vitousek, P.M., Aber, J.D., Howarth, R.W., Likens, G.E., Matson, P.A., Schindler, D.W., Schlesinger, W.H., and Tilman, D.G., 1997. Human alteration of the global nitrogen cycle: sources and consequences. Ecol. Appl. 7, 735-750. Zhang, Y., Li, C., Zhou, X., and Moore, B. 2002. A Simulation model linking crop growth and soil biogeochemistry for sustainable agriculture. Ecological Modelling. 151. pp. 75-108.
The environmental behaviour knowledge and environmental actions of Generation X Lee Roy Abstract Anthropogenic climate change threatens the balance of the planet as we currently know it. To assist in transitions that will lead to a sustainable future it is important to understand the various components that influence how individuals behave. Using the Theoretical Framework of Planned Behaviour developed by Kaiser et al. (1999) this study used a survey to look at how knowledge type influences environmental behaviour. Twenty-five participants born between 1965 and 1982 (Generation Xers) were recruited. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the data revealed a relationship between Environmental Behaviour and Environmental Behaviour Knowledge (R2 = 0.27 and p < 0.01). This study adds depth and support to previous research and provides some insight into the type of knowledge that leads to Gen Xers acting environmentally.
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010
Keywords: surveys, values, political party, environmentalist Introduction Human over consumption and industrialization is known to be at the root of environmental degradation and climate change. The result threatens the ecological balance of our planet. In order to prevent further ecological changes people must change their collective behaviour to act greener and use fewer resources. For organizations and people wanting to facilitate others in making ecological choices it is important to understand individuals within the greater population. Since groups are comprised of individuals, understanding individual knowledge, beliefs and behaviour will provide a foundation for a more holistic understanding of a subgroup. My primary interest is to examine the relationship between environmental behaviour knowledge and environmental actions among members of Generation X. Environmental behaviour knowledge and environmental actions are well researched fields. However, there is no research on this topic that specifically looks at Generation X. I feel that this group is particularly important because they are the adults that are currently sitting poised to claim positions of power within our society and will guide the next wave of climate change decisions. Focusing on one cohort is useful as it allows me to look at a set of people that have presumably shared some experiences while growing up. In particular I will look at what knowledge Generation Xers‟ have about environmental behaviours and how this influences their behaviour. Generation X is the most widely used name given to the cohort born between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y. Other names have been applied to this cohort such as the “Generation After”, “13th Generation”, “MTV Generation”, and “Baby Busters” (Delvaux, 1999; Losyk, 1997). The dates are questionable as to the start and end of the generation. However the widest agreed upon range for classifying Generation Xers‟ are those born between the years 1965 and 1982. It is the individuals born within this range that I will focus my research on. Gen X, for short, was the first generation raised with a significant proportion of single parent families (Losyk, 1997); as a result many were “latch-key kids” coming home from school to an empty house and left to their own devices. According to Losyk (1997) they lacked the individual attention required during formidable years and were raised by television on a diet of AIDS, nuclear threats and pollution. These experiences and many others Losyk (1997) suggests have led to a generation of young adults that have taken longer to mature, dislike being alone and crave attention. He also says that Gen Xers‟ tend to be materialistic, desire fun over work and are
technologically savvy. Losyk (1997) goes on to argue that while some think that this makes Gen Xers‟ appear apathetic and greedy it is actually quite the opposite. As a result of their upbringing Gen Xers‟ tend to value family more than the previous generation and recognize the need to have a flexible work/life balance (Noble & Schewe, 2001; Losyk, 1997). According to Noble & Schewe (2001), while there are many shared experiences brought about by popular culture, media and politics there are a multitude more experiences that shape an individual‟s identity and values. For example, it is true that there were many Gen X children raised by televisions in single parent homes but not all were. Noble & Schewe (2001) conducted surveys to determine if cohorts actually exist and if values can be used to predict membership to a specific cohort. Their findings indicated that it is difficult to distinguish one cohort from another based on values. They suggest that values may be too abstract and that behaviours may be a better indication of differences between cohorts. Similar findings were made by Eskilson & Wiley (1998), who found that basic values, goals and expectations did not differ between Gen Xers‟ and preceding generations. There are many variables involved in the ability and motivation to behave environmentally (FernandezManzanal, Rodriguez-Barreiro and Carrasquer, 2007; Tanner & Kast, 2003; Kurz, 2002). Positive attitudes about an environmentally friendly product or behaviour tend to foster positive environmental responses (Tanner & Kast, 2003). Tanner and Kast (2003) explain that when perceived barriers are minimized and when there is a feeling of control over an environmental behaviour the motivation to behave environmentally increases. In addition, when knowledge is related to environmental action it is more likely to elicit positive environmental behaviour than knowledge of environmental facts (Tanner & Kast, 2003). An understanding of these variables can reveal ways to assist individuals to act in environmentally responsible manners. Four categories of environmentalist, each with a set of self-defining characteristics have been identified: Committed environmentalists, Mainstream environmentalists, Occasional environmentalists and Non-environmentalists (Gilg, Barr, and Ford, 2005). By examining socio-economic status, educational background, social values and how often an individual participated in various environmental activities, Glig et al. (2005) were able to categorize individuals from the UK into one of these four groups. The committed and non-environmentalists groups showed the most variance in behaviour and characteristics; the committed environmentalists tended to be older with higher incomes and leftist values where as nonenvironmentalists tended to be younger, male with less
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 education and lower incomes, this group also appeared not politically motivated (Glig et al., 2005). Similar findings were found by Fernandez-Manzanal et al. (2007) with regards to gender and level of university education. These studies showed that the environmental habitual behaviours of individuals can be affected by many personal factors including education and knowledge. Environmental organizations wanting to influence individuals to behave in an environmentally desirable manner need to incorporate relevant knowledge and values into their campaigns. Previous research has shown the type of knowledge a person possesses has an effect on the how an individual acts towards environmental issues. There appears to be a void in the primary literature where knowledge and environmental behaviours of Gen Xers‟ apply. Given the age range of Gen Xers (27-44) many have young families and/or are moving into the peak of their careers. It is these individuals that will be most influential in revolutionizing how societies treat the environment in the years to come. This study will look at the knowledge type that Generation Xers‟ have and how this influences their environmental behaviours. Framework and Methodology Kaiser, Wolfing, and Fuhrer (1999) used a combination of theories to develop a framework that examines the relationship between attitudes and behaviours. They took into account how knowledge and values are a precondition for attitude and norms, and how these affect the intention to behave in an ecological manner. Kaiser et al. (1999) added that socio-cultural constraints are an additional factor in having the intent to behave ecologically and actually performing such events. They argue that these are frequently influences that are beyond individual control. According to Kaiser et al. (1999) knowledge has a stronger affect on the intent to behave environmentally than on the actual action. However, as stated above the relative likelihood of an environmental action occurring increases when the knowledge is of the action rather than of the environment (Tanner & Kast, 2003). With this previous research as my backdrop, I used the Theoretical Framework of Planned Behaviour developed by Kaiser et al. (1999) to determine the effect of knowledge type on the environmental actions of Gen Xers‟. A survey consisting of a blend of environmental knowledge (EK) and environmental behaviour knowledge (EBK) statements, as well as environmental behaviour (EB) questions, and demographic questions was used to gather information (See Appendix 1). These questions were adapted and expanded from one UK and two Swiss sources (Glig et al., 2005; Tanner & Kast, 2003; Kaiser et al., 1999) for a Canadian population. The first two sections of the survey asked EB questions. The first part asked participants about environmental actions that are easily performed, such as recycling
habits. These questions were ranked 1 (always), 2 (sometimes), 3 (rarely) and 4 (never). Since throughout the remainder of the survey a higher number was associated with a higher frequency or increased knowledge this section was scored in reverse when recording the data. The second behaviour section consisted of questions that involved the participant taking a more active approach to environmental behaviour. These were questions such as how often they cycled instead of drove or purchased organic food. Scores for this section were based on an annual frequency 1 (0 times), 2 (1-5 times), 3 (6-10 times) and 4 (11+ times). Knowledge questions were a mix of EBK and EK true statements; participants were asked to rate their knowledge level from 1 (unaware) to 5 (aware). The last section consisted of a few demographic questions typical on surveys such as gender and age. Since knowledge is frequently positively associated with level of education participants also were asked to indicate the highest level of education they have attained. This information was gathered to provide a qualitative glimpse as to the participants‟ potential knowledge. Participants were also asked in this section to indicate what political party they voted for during the previous federal election. This information was used to get a sense of the values held by respondents. The fact that individuals self-reported and may have provided social desirable responses was a limitation to this method of data collection. Researcher effects were limited by recruiting participants through snowball sampling (Bell, 2008). Participants that had never met the researcher were recruited through coworkers from Science North and WWF-Canada. Paper surveys were given out between May 1 and June 1 2009, participants were asked to do the survey and return them once completed. Twenty five individuals born between the years of 1965 and 1982 inclusively were recruited. A twenty sixth participant born prior to 1965 was omitted from the study. A mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis was performed on the information collected. Based on the data collected, means for EB, EK and EBK were calculated for each individual. Questions that were unanswered by a respondent were given the lowest possible score. A regression analysis with 95% confidence level was used to determine if there was a relationship between behaviour and knowledge type. Simple summary statistics were used to take a cursory look at demographic information. Results The average level of EB for all participants was 2.95, average EK was 4.07, and the average EBK was 3.80. Regression analysis revealed a positive relationship between EB and knowledge in general (R2 = 0.16 and p < 0.04). As can be observed in Figure 1a and 1b the stronger relationship was found between EB and EBK (R2 = 0.27 and p < 0.01) than between EB and
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 EK. However the EB relationship with respect to EK was also positive (R2 = 0.04 and p < 0.34) although this result is only slightly positive and largely due to chance. The level of education attained by participants was fairly high (Table 1a). The majority had a Bachelors degree (40%) and many had a Masters degree (28%), the lowest level of education was from one individual who thus far has some college (4%). There was one respondent that was a medical doctor (4%) and while this is technically a Bachelors degree I separated it out. Some of the respondents specified what the study of their degree had been, but many didn‟t hence I did not quantify this information. An equal number of participants chose not vote as voted Liberal (24%) during the last federal election (Table 1b). A slightly greater percentage voted for the Green Party (28%) and less for NDP (16%). The Conservative‟s and Marxist-Leninist parties both had one participant (4%) vote for them. More than two thirds of the respondents were female (68%), 28% were male and one participant (4%) did not specify a gender (Table 1c). The age range was skewed towards the younger third 1977-1982 with 52% of all respondents falling in this range (Table 1d). The oldest two thirds accounted for a nearly equal proportion of the remaining participants: 1965-1970, 28% and 1971-1976, 20%. Discussion and Conclusion
The level of EB for participants in this study was moderately high at 74%. While participants had an overall better understanding of EK than EBK the results of regression analysis show that EBK is more likely to have a positive influence on EB. This is in agreement with those of Tanner & Kast (2003) who demonstrated that knowledge related to action gains or increases EB. This information is important to environmental advocates looking to change behaviour by fostering the development of new knowledge. Knowledge, values and perceived barriers are all variables to consider when an individual acts environmentally responsible (Kaiser et al., 1999). This study focused on knowledge and did take a qualitative look at values but did not take a deep look at perceived barriers to action. A participant‟s level of education, politics, gender and age were used to scratch the surface and provide a glimpse into the factors that provide additional reasons for an individual‟s behaviour. All of the participants were fairly well educated, some college at the very least. This leads to the expectation that a higher degree of knowledge would be possessed by this group than from a group with an overall lower level of education. However, it is worth noting that level of education is not a direct measure the knowledge type one has. An interested individual can have no formal training in a subject but still possess expert knowledge through free choice learning experiences. One did not require a background in
Figure 1. Environmental Behaviour in relation to knowledge type. (1a.). Regression of Mean Environmental Behaviour (EB) and mean Environmental Behaviour Knowledge (EBK) for each participant. (1b.) Regression of mean for Environmental Behaviour (EB) and the mean Environmental Knowledge (EK) for each participant. N=25.
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 environmental issues to attain a perfect score on this survey however it would have been interesting to know if any participants had formal instruction in a related field as this may have altered the results and led to the overall high level of knowledge seen. Alternately, environmental issues are part of main stream media and it is possible that people may acquire this knowledge passively. As has been demonstrated by Tanner & Kast (2003), Kurz (2002) and Kaiser et al. (1999) knowledge is only one aspect influencing how an individual will ultimately behave. Simply supplying information does not necessarily lead to action. This is supported by Kellstedt, Zahran and Vedlitz (2008) who examined knowledge as one factor leading to concerns about global warming in context to the knowledge-deficit model. In fact they found that an increased level of knowledge about environmental issues led to a decrease in action and concern about such problems. This is disturbing, however in light of the positive relationship between EBK and EB uncovered by this study and similar findings in Tanner & Kast (2003) it may be encouraging to know that the type of knowledge can have a positive effect on EB. Participants‟ political tendencies were used to provide a casual look at their values. As demonstrated by Glig et al. (2005) this is a very superficial way to measure values in the UK since there tends to be a difference in values among those with extreme right and left political views. I should mention that Canadian political parties are not highly differentiated and are more center-left and center-right in nature; hence this measure is truly cursory. That said it is interesting that although the current parliament has a decidedly right wing (minority) government, the majority of
respondents were left leaning in the previous federal election. The overall positive result in the data may be due, in part, to left wing individuals being more likely to participate in perceived “green” activities such as were the topics in this research. As an aside I must mention that I am disappointed and surprised, especially given the overall level of education, as to how many respondents chose not to vote. This apathy did not appear to be a result of age as there were an equal number of individuals within each age class that did not vote. Given the nearly 1:2 ratio of male and female participants it was striking the proportion of males (4 out of 7) that did not vote (2 out of 18 females did not vote). There did not appear to be a difference in knowledge type or EB between males and females or age classes. This could be a result of such a small sample size as Glig et al. (2005) did find a variance in environmental behaviour based on age, values, level of education and income (this study did not look at income). Apart from the small sample size, other methodological issues associated with this study likely played a role in the results attained. Although an attempt was made to limit social desirability in responses it is most likely that some individuals scored themselves higher than what was actually true. Interestingly this could be detected on surveys where some participants were very willing to score themselves a 4 or 5 on knowledge but never anything lower, choosing instead to leave presumably unknown statements blank. A few participants made comments on their surveys. For example several respondents indicated that they do not compost food scraps because it is not available in their apartment building. One respondent took offence to the use of the word “primarily” in the
Table 1. Demographic information showing responses to survey questions asking (1a.) highest level of education attained; (1b.)political party voted for during previous federal election; (1c.) gender; and (1d.) range defined for year of birth. N=25.
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 statement reading “climate change is primarily due to human activity”. In their opinion it was only “partially due to human activity”. Another respondent stated that they do not purchase organic food because they don‟t trust that it actually is organic. Comments such as these were noted as points of interest since attitude and perceived barriers are contributing factors to EB. Interestingly those with a perceived barrier (i.e. lack of compost in an apartment building) had an EB above average despite this barrier and those that took issue with statements in the survey had EB scores below average. Since knowledge for both groups was below average it would appear that attitude has a bigger effect on action than a perceived barrier does. These observations were only noted for a few individuals but are worth further investigation. Given the limited scope and sample size of this project it is interesting to note that its results compare to previous research (Tanner & Kast, 2003) and adds a depth to current research (Kellstedt et al., 2008). It is important to investigate this topic further, especially with the evidence that an increase in knowledge can lead to a decrease in action (Kellstedt et al., 2008) it is important to have a healthy understanding of the knowledge-behaviour relationship so that a positive change can occur. The positive trend in EB with respect to EBK observed in this study provides hope that not all types of knowledge lead to inaction and that increases in EBK can indeed encourage EB. Adults aged 27-44, Gen Xers‟, are entering the prime of their careers; it is the leaders of this cohort that will be in positions to make decisions regarding global climate change. And for that reason, now more than ever, it is important to understand the variables that contribute to the environmental actions that need to take place. Determining what motivates individuals to act environmental is the key to changing undesired behaviours.
References Bell, J. 2008. Doing Your Research Project: a guide for Firsttime Researchers in Education Health and Social Science. Ch 8. 4th ed. Open University Press, McGraw Hill Education. Delvaux, M. The Exit of a Generation: the “Whatever” Philosophy. The Midwest Quarterly, vol. 40, no. 2, pp 171-86. Eskilson, A and Wiely, M.G. 1998. Solving for the X: Aspirations and Expectations of College Students. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 28, no 1, pp 51-70. Fernandez-Manzanal, R, Rodriguez-Barreiro, L. and Carrasquer, J. 2007. Evaluation of Environmental Attitudes: Analysis and Results of a Scale Applied to University Students. Science Education, vol. 91 pp 9881009. Gilg, A., Barr, S., Ford, N. 2005. Green Consumption or Sustainable Lifestyles? Identifying the Sustainable Consumer. Futures, vol. 37, no. 6, pp. 481-504. Kaiser, F., Wolfing, S. and Fuhrer, U. 1999. Environmental Attitude and Ecological Behaviour. Journal of Environmental Psychology vol. 19 pp 1-19. Kellstedt, P.M., Zahran, S. and Vedlitz, A. 2008. Personal Efficiency, the Information Environment, and Attitudes Toward Global Warming and Climate Change in the United States. Risk Analysis vol. 28 pp 113-126. Kurz, T. 2002. The Psychology of Environmentally Sustainable Behaviour: Fitting Together Pieces of the Puzzle. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, Vol. 2 pp 257-278. Losyk, B. Generation X What They Think and What They Plan To Do. The Futurist, vol. 31, pp 29-44. Noble, S.M. and Schewe, C.D. 2001. Cohort Segmentation: An Exploration of its Validity. Journal of Business Research, vol. 56, pp 979-987. Tanner, C. and Wölfing Kast, S. 2003. Promoting Sustainable Consumption: Determinants of Green Purchases by Swiss Consumers. Psychology and Marketing vol. 20, no. 10, pp. 883–902.
Articles Vitamin C, colds and health Lifestyles, The Sudbury Star (Originally published December 5, 2009) Jenn McCallum, Science North It's getting to be that time of year again. A cough here, a sneeze there, and before you know it, you are coming down with a cold. Wouldn't it be best if we could protect ourselves from catching this annoying virus in the first place? In
renowned chemist and double (Chemistry and Peace) Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling, proposed the idea that very large daily doses of vitamin C could prevent colds. He wrote a well known book called Vitamin C and the Common Cold. In April, 1981, he came to Sudbury and spoke to a packed aud ience at Laurentian University about vitamin C and health. Some people still like what he said, but other scientists and doctors hotly contested his ideas. Today, the debate rages on. A study in 2007 altered our thinking about the issue considerably. It turns out, taking large doses of vitamin C, or mega-dosing, does not protect against colds in normal, healthy individuals. Taken ahead of time, the best it can do, is reduce the length of a cold by a day or
Science Communication Bulletin â€“ March 8, 2010
two (up to 14%) for children, and perhaps a day (up to 8%) for adults. If you start taking large quantities of vitamin C once a cold hits, however, it won't do anything to help cure your cold.
Our feathered friends, the dinosaurs
You may be wondering at this point what constitutes a mega-dose of vitamin C and what is considered a regular dose?
Kevin McAvoy, Science North
Health Canada suggests a recommended daily intake (RDI) of 25 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C per day for children, up to age eight, adults are 75 and 90 mg per day for women and men respectively. Pauling recommended 10 times that. Children can meet their RDI requirement with one cup of honeydew, or a cup of raspberries. Adults require one cup of orange juice, one cup of strawberries, or one cup of cooked broccoli. Health Canada also provides an upper limit for daily vitamin C intake, which is up in the range that Pauling promoted. These are the maximums for mega-dosing on the vitamin. For children, the daily limit is 600 mg/day, for adults it is up to 2,000 mg/day. In other words, children can consume up to three times their recommended daily intake and adults can consume 20 times more. An average person would have to eat nine cups of cooked red peppers, or 36 cups of pineapple, to reach this upper limit.
Lifestyles, The Sudbury Star (Originally published February 2010) Imagine waking up tomorrow and finding yourself in the world of 100-million-years ago. Standing on the badlands of a fractured continent, you see prehistoric life sweeping past you. You see tiny mammals, the abundant insects and dinosaurs; large ones, small ones, herds of herbivores and several carnivores with sharp claws, fearsome teeth and ... fluffy feathers? In fact, the evidence has mount that many dinosaurs had feathers and are more closely related to birds, than we ever imagined. Aside for some interest after the discovery of the "first bird," Archaeopteryx, in 1861, the idea had been largely dismissed up until the last few decades.
Are there any problems associated with consuming too much vitamin C? Luckily, our bodies know what to do and we release excess vitamin C in our urine.
The first feathered dinosaur, Avimimus, was discovered in 1981, and was described as feathered in 1987. Nearly a decade later, a second downy dino, Sinosauropteryx, was discovered. To date, at least 21 species have shown direct evidence of having feathers, with more being discovered each year.
Long-term mega-dosing of vitamin C does, however, have some pitfalls. We can eventually get diarrhea or kidney stones. And if we mega-dose on vitamin C for a long period, then reduce our C consumption to a lower more reasonable amount, we can actually get scurvy-- a vitamin C deficiency. Go figure.
The discovery of most known feathered dinosaurs came by way of impressions in the rock around the fossilized skeletons. Normally, only certain parts of animals are preserved, such as bones, teeth or shells, because they already contain minerals. Other tissues, even harder ones like feathers, nails or hair, decompose over time.
To meet our needs for vitamin C, and to avoid megadosing, we can turn to Canada's Food Guide. The guide recommends five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Unfortunately, though, the food guide can't provide us with a cold prevention guarantee. And Linus Pauling? Well, he also wrote a book called How to Live Longer and Feel Better, and was still giving speeches just before he died at 93. Perhaps he knew what he was talking about after all.
In some very specific types of environments, however, the impression of those tissues can be preserved in mud, which becomes rock over time. These conditions have provided a glimpse into the past that ordinary fossils never could. The special limestone found in Solnhofen, Germany or Liaoning, China, called lagerstatte, has been a goldmine of these rare ruffled reptiles. Although these delicate sands can preserve tiny aspects of small plants and animals, they don't provide the same detail for larger species. Fortunately, in a few larger dinosaur species, a different type of evidence is present. A landmark discovery in 2007, proved the existence of feathers in the species Velociraptor -- the two-foot tall predator differs greatly from its famous portrayal in the film Jurassic Park. The discovery of quill knobs, bumps on the bone where large feathers were attached, paints an entirely new image of Velociraptor. The heavily-feathered arms and body did not allow it to fly, but rather kept it warm.
Science Communication Bulletin – March 8, 2010 For some scientists, this discovery did not come as a surprise, in fact, Velociraptor was predicted to have feathers before any evidence was found. Scientists researching feathered dinosaurs had discovered a pattern. Of the feathered dinosaur species that have been found, almost all of them have been in a single suborder called Theropoda, meaning beast feet. These successes and new types of evidence, have only increased speculation about feathered theropods.
Social Media Don’t be such a scientist… Blog article http://sciencecommunicationprogram.blogspot.com
(Originally posted March 1, 2010) Don't be so cerebral, don't be so literal minded, don't be such a poor story teller, don't be unlikable and don't be such a scientist. That pretty much sums up Randy Olson's book: Don't be such a scientist: Talking substance in an age of style, since I just named all the chapters. The book is a guide for scientists floundering through the process of communicating with the public. The book opens with the trials and tribulations of our plucky hero Randy Olson, a tenured marine biologist trying to break into the world of Hollywood. Throughout the book we get glimpses of his life and the lessons he has learned about science communication. He goes through the pitfalls of communicating as a scientist and what to things to avoid. Olson spent about 15 years as a university professor and it shows. A lot of the book felt like being in a university course with a long-winded professor that tells more than a few, mostly related anecdotes before getting to the point. That being said, Olson does have many good points. As scientists, we tend to be overly critical of things because that is what we are trained to do. When reading a paper or listening to a presentation, we try to poke holes in peoples arguments or methods. As he puts it, we start with a "no" rather than a "yes". However starting with a "no" and being the skeptic puts a gap between you and
Even the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex is now thought to have had feathers as a juvenile, to keep warm at night. Discoveries like these prove that whether scaly behemoths or six-foot turkeys, dinosaurs and their ancient world still remain shrouded in mystery. There is still a lot of work to do before we'll truly understand these wondrous lizards. Dig in.
the public. It is like being the kid who doesn't believe in Santa Claus that ruins it for the rest. The book has some good analogies like the "Four organs of connecting to a mass audience". Basically there is the head, the heart, the gut, and the sex organs. Scientists and people who think too much tend to communicate from the head. The public however, tends to communicate more from the rest of the organs. Olson states that to communicate to the broadest audience we have to "move the process out of the head, into the heart with sincerity, into the gut with humour, and into the lower organs for sex appeal". (Sounds like rhetorical analysis). For all the "Don‟t" he has in the book, there are not a whole lot of "Do". His main suggestion is to be Carl Sagan, one of the greatest science communicators so far. Many people are critical of the book for the same reason. The point of the book as he puts it, is not to teach you to be a mass communicator. (You should join our program if that's what you are interested in.) The book is meant as a lesson to help scientists "rethink [their] style of communication...to reach a larger audience". I think if Olson prefaced the book with this statement, the book would have gotten better reviews with the scientific community. I enjoyed this book. I didn't agree with everything in it, but the good points really stuck with me. Life is too short to figure out how to communicate science all by yourself. Read the book and learn from Olson's experiences. Take away the messages that can help you be a better communicator.
Science Communication Bulletin â€“ March 8, 2010
Conferences Social Marketing and Chelonian Sustainability Workshop: Changing Minds to Change the Fate of Turtles â€“ Toronto Zoo, Toronto, Ontario, March 23-24, 2010
Using science communication techniques to engage the public James Baxter-Gilbert Department of Science and Communication, Laurentian University, 935 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, Ontario Science North, 100 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, Ontario
Abstract A major problem facing stewardship programs is public engagement. No matter the strength of the science behind the need for turtle conservation, the ability to communicate this information effectively to the general, and at times apathetic, public is difficult. Including the "human dimension" in conservation biology and stewardship programs is challenging and often requires a multidisciplinary approach. The goal of stewardship programs should be to not only understand the science behind turtle conservation, but also the social science behind motivating people to support your cause. This talk will address science communication techniques that will aid in creating public support and assembly of a communication plan for your organization. Techniques to be covered will include motivation methods, rhetorical devices, identifying audience characteristics, and use of narratives. The public must know that everyone has a role in this issue, and that scientists cannot solve the problem alone.
About the Graduate Diploma in Science Communication The graduate diploma program in science communication is a joint program between Laurentian University and Science North (science centre). Based out of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, it is the only comprehensive science communication program in North America. The program seamlessly blends learning and communication theories with practical experience. Program features include: Practical communication experience Dynamic theoretical courses 8-week internship Independent research project Networking opportunities To learn more about the program, contact co-directors David Pearson (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Laurentian University or Chantal Barriault (email@example.com) at Science North.
About the Research Bulletin This bulletin is a collection of select research papers and articles from the Graduate Diploma program in Science Communication and is published on the program website: http://www.sciencecommunication.ca.