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Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. School of Communication American University Washington DC October 17, 2007 NSF BIO Division Framing Science: The Future of Public.

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Presentation on theme: "Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. School of Communication American University Washington DC October 17, 2007 NSF BIO Division Framing Science: The Future of Public."— Presentation transcript:

1 Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. School of Communication American University Washington DC October 17, 2007 NSF BIO Division Framing Science: The Future of Public Engagement

2 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Communicating Science Across Contexts: Struggle to Control Attention and Definition of an Issue UPSTREAMDOWNSTREAM Specialized communication and audience; Technical interpretations favored, administrative policy arenas Popular communication and wider audience; Drama and conflict favored, overtly political policy arenas NISBET, M.C. & Huge, M (2006). Attention cycles and frames in the plant biotechnology debate: Managing power and participation through the press/policy connection. Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 11, 2, 3-40.

3 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Discovery Institute and Framing: Re-Defining Evolution as a Social Problem Science curriculum Pres. Bush Bill Frist Op-eds, books, mags teachers school boards scientists courts creationists Political reporters Daily Show / South Park Wider public Challenging the status-quo by widening the scope of participation and shifting policy venues. State legislatures Governors Txtbook publishers

4 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Basic Research

5 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Public Scholarship scienceblogs.com/framing-science

6 Popular Science vs. Reality

7 scienceblogs.com/framing-science The Popular Science Model Assumption: If the public knew more about the technical side of science, then the public would view issues as scientists do, and there would be fewer controversies Emphasis is on science education and mass mediated popular science.

8 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Fully Informed Public vs. Miserly Public? If he doesnt live your life, share your values, or is someone you would want to have a beer with, then he shouldnt be your President.

9 scienceblogs.com/framing-science 1985 Too Many Choices? Availability Doesnt Equal Use

10 scienceblogs.com/framing-science 2007 Too Many Choices? Availability Doesnt Equal Use

11 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Citizens and Media: The Problem of Choice High Information Low Information High Engagement Low Engagement

12 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Framing as a Third Way: Engaging Adults Via the Media Frames organize central ideas on an issue. They endow certain dimensions of a complex topic with greater apparent relevance than the same dimensions might appear to have under an alternative frame. Frames communicate why an issue might be a problem, who or what might be responsible, and what should be done. Communicated in short hand by catch-phrases, slogans, historical references, cartoons, and images. Scheufele & Nisbet (in press). Encyclopedia of Political Communication

13 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Journalists use frames to organize stories and appeal to intended audiences. Citizens use frames to make sense of complex topics, and to articulate their opinions. Accept media frames that fit existing interpretative schema. Scientists use frames to communicate to non-specialists in other fields, craft grant proposals, write popular books, make powerpoint slides, and talk to journalists. Scheufele & Nisbet (in press). Encyclopedia of Political Communication Framing as a Third Way: Engaging Adults Via the Media

14 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Where to Start? A Generalizable Frame Typology for Science FrameScience Issue Defined As…. Social progress Improving life, solving problems, master/harmony nature. Economic develop. Market benefits/competitiveness. Pandoras box / Runaway science & fatalism Call for precaution in face of possible impacts/catastrophe; Out-of-control monster; or action is futile, path is chosen. Morality/ethics Right or wrong, crossing/respecting boundaries. Scientific uncertainty What is known or unknown; evoking or undermining consensus, sound science, peer-review. Public accountability Responsible use or abuse of power; politicization, citizen responsiveness. Third way/alternative path Compromise solution, middle way between opposing sides. Conflict/Strategy Game among elites, battle of groups/personalities.

15 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Remaining True to the Science… …But Making Complex Issues Personally Meaningful Motivate interest and attention to science. Create messages that go beyond polarization. Shape preferences for policies informed by science. Enhance trust and respect for scientific expertise. Shape personal or political behavior.

16 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Stem Cell Research

17 scienceblogs.com/framing-science NISBET APRIL 2005: Knowledge of Politics and Science of Stem Cell Research Mean= 1.8 SD= Bush decision. 2.California proposition. 3.Why scientists think ESC is important. 4.Regulation of cloning. 5.N-I-H stands for? Source: National RDD Telephone Survey, March 19 to April 29, 2005 N=774, adults 18 and older. OSU and Cornell University.

18 scienceblogs.com/framing-science The Social Progress Frame JDRF 2001 As you may already know, a stem cell is the basic cell in the body from which all other cells arise. Medical researchers have been able to isolate stem cells from excess human embryos developed through in vitro fertilization and fetal tissue that has been donated to research. The medical researchers believe that human stem cells can be developed as replacement cells to cure diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, burns, or spinal cord problems. Do you favor the funding of stem cell research by the National Institutes of Health?" Nisbet (2004). Public Opinion Quarterly.

19 scienceblogs.com/framing-science The Morality Frame NCCB 2001 Stem cells are the basic cells from which all of a persons tissues and organs develop. Congress is considering whether to provide funding for experiments using stem cells from human embryos. The live embryos would be destroyed in their first week of development to obtain these cells. Do you support or oppose using your federal tax dollars for such experiments? Nisbet (2004). Public Opinion Quarterly.

20 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Stem Cell Debate: Whos Winning the Frame Contest?

21 scienceblogs.com/framing-science VCU 2001 & 2002: Religion as a Perceptual Screen Nisbet (2005). International Journal of Public Opinion Research.

22 scienceblogs.com/framing-science PEW: Differential Support Among Religious Americans a)All in all, which is more important: Conducting stem cell research that might result in new medical cures OR Not destroying the potential life of human embryos involved in this research? b)As you may know the Fed. Govt. has debated whether to fund certain kinds of medical research know as sc research, have much have you heard about this?

23 scienceblogs.com/framing-science PROP 71: How the West Was Won?

24 scienceblogs.com/framing-science One is the extraordinary opportunity we have here to eradicate these diseases that are plaguing our friends and families, diseases like Alzheimer's, MS, diabetes. (SOCIAL PROGRESS) Our scientists are not going into this field because there's not adequate funding, there's not adequate resources. Or if they are, we're losing them to other countries like Singapore. (ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.) I think the mistake is looking at this as just a cost. We should be looking at this as an investment for our economy. …As new treatments were found health care costs would go down. What history has shown us is that it's cheaper to--to cure a disease than it is to continue to treat a disease. ( ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT) – Actor Brad Pitt on NBC Today Show, Oct. 26, 2004 STAYING ON MESSAGE: Brad, Why Do You Support Prop. 71?

25 scienceblogs.com/framing-science How the West Was Won: Ad Blitz, One-Sided Framing Shifted Support

26 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Framing: Truth and Messengers If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again. Oct Science is a gift of God to all of us and science has taken us to a place that is biblical in its power to cure and that is the embryonic stem cell research. June 2007

27 scienceblogs.com/framing-science GALLUP: Moral Acceptability of ESC

28 scienceblogs.com/framing-science MISSOURI: Pro-Life Goes Public Accountability

29 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Other Cell Sources as a Middle Way Scientists See Potential In Amniotic Stem Cells They Are Highly Versatile And Readily Available By Rick Weiss Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, January 8, 2007; A01 Scientists Use Skin To Create Stem Cells Discovery Could Recast Debate By Rick Weiss Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, June 7, 2007; Page A01 Moving forward with Social Consensus… --William Hurlburt

30 scienceblogs.com/framing-science New Directions in Science Communication

31 scienceblogs.com/framing-science New Directions in Science Communication: 1. Broader Public Engagement Framing as a Third Way Message discipline Local news and community connections Facilitate incidental exposure

32 scienceblogs.com/framing-science Where to Start? A Generalizable Set of Frames FrameScience Issue Defined As…. Social progress Improving life, solving problems, master/harmony nature. Economic develop. Market benefits/competitiveness. Pandoras box / Runaway science & fatalism Call for precaution in face of possible impacts/catastrophe; Out-of-control monster; or action is futile, path is chosen. Morality/ethics Right or wrong, crossing/respecting boundaries. Scientific uncertainty What is known or unknown; evoking or undermining consensus, sound science, peer-review. Public accountability Responsible use or abuse of power; politicization, citizen responsiveness. Third way/alternative path Compromise solution, middle way between opposing sides. Conflict/Strategy Game among elites, battle of groups/personalities.

33 scienceblogs.com/framing-science New Directions in Science Communication: 1. Broader Public Engagement Framing as a Third Way Message discipline Local news and community connections Facilitate incidental exposure to science

34 scienceblogs.com/framing-science New Directions in Science Communication: 2. Working with the Media Science writers are not the problem! Engage editors

35 scienceblogs.com/framing-science New Directions in Science Communication: 3. Change Culture and Incentives NSF and Other Agency Funding Doctoral training in science communication

36 scienceblogs.com/framing-science For Further Information Matthew Nisbet, Ph.D. is assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University, Washington DC. Blog:


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