Professor Matthew C. Nisbet, Northeastern University, Presents "Engaging the Public on Sustainability Problems: Research to Inform the Work of Experts, Journalists, and Advocates"

Event Date: 

Friday, May 15, 2015 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Room 1009 SS&MS Building

Event Price: 

Free admission

Event Contact: 

Ronald E. Rice,

Professor Matthew C. Nisbet, Northeastern University Presents Engaging the Public on Sustainability Problems:  Research to Inform the Work of Experts, Journalists, and Advocates

On issues ranging from climate change and energy to food production and water scarcity, experts and their institutions are increasingly called up on to communicate with the public, advise policymakers, and/or to advocate on behalf of causes.  In this regard, navigating the often polarized terrain of sustainability controversies requires a careful understanding of the factors that seed disagreement; and the strategies available for restoring cooperation, for identifying and promoting innovative and effective solutions, and for building broader consensus in support of proposed actions. In this presentation, drawing on findings and insights from several recent studies and related areas of research, Professor Nisbet analyzes current strategies employed by scientists and expert organizations to effectively communicate with the public and policymakers about climate change, energy, and food biotechnology. In doing so, he discusses the role that universities in partnership with experts, philanthropists, journalists, and other civil society professionals can play in supporting communities, states, and regions as they consider actions to make themselves more resilient, sustainable, and innovative places to live.

Matthew C. Nisbet is Associate Professor of Communication, Public Policy & Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. He is a Senior Editor at Oxford University Press’ Research Encyclopedia Climate Science, “The Age of Us” columnist at The Conversation, and a member of the National Academies Roundtable Committee on Public Interfaces in the Life Sciences. Nisbet studies the role of communication, media, and public opinion in debates over science, technology, and the environment. The author of more than 70 peer-reviewed studies, scholarly book chapters, and reports, at Northeastern University he teaches courses in Environmental and Risk Communication, and Strategic Communication. Among awards and recognition, he has been a Shorenstein Fellow on Media, Policy, and Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Investigator, and a Google Science Communication Fellow.  The editors at the journal Nature have recommended Nisbet’s research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic has highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism.” Nisbet holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Communication from Cornell University and a BA in Government from Dartmouth College.