Sustainable Science Communication Conference

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Event Dates: 
May 13, 2015 to May 14, 2015
Santa Barbara, California, USA


We invite you to a free, interdisciplinary conference of presentations and discussions on "Sustainable Science Communication" May 13 and 14, 2015. The event begins with the new documentary Merchants of Doubt and audience discussion beginning at 7 pm May 13 in the elegant Pollock Theater. Click here for reservations. This film kicks off the Sustainable Science Communication Conference, all day at Corwin Pavilion, Thursday May 14. The conference itself consists of four panels (Content, Audience, Media, Impact) beginning at 9:30 am at UC Santa Barbara’s Corwin Pavilion. No registration is necessary. The conference and discussions will cover approaches from multiple academic research disciplines, community organizations, and practitioners.

The conference title “Sustainable Science Communication” emphasizes two complementary issues.  The first is “sustainable science” and the second is sustainable “science communication.”

Sustainable Science. The transition to a sustainable society will require a “third industrial revolution”, in which manufacturing, transportation and communication are conducted within constraints imposed by resource availability and supply risk; limitations on energy and freshwater consumption; and knowledge about the environmental fate and transport of components. According to Paul Anastas, one of the founders of the green chemistry movement, such a transition implies no less than the “the redesign of…the material that is at the basis of our society and our economy”. The substitution of conventional technologies by more sustainable versions should be achieved in a manner that maximizes long-term benefits while minimizing short-term disruption.

Sustainable Science Communication.  Related to this particular issue, but also to environmental and other science-based issues, scientists, engineers, and technology developers in particular and academics in general must become able to communicate clearly to other scientists within and across their disciplines, the public, business leaders, government officials, and policy-makers.  Effective communication about science content, choices, and consequences requires the awareness, development, understanding, and application of ongoing theory, research, and evaluation about effective messaging and an appreciation of barriers that impede science-based decision-making. That is, rather than sound bites, personal preferences, and technical reports, we need a sustainable, shared, and constantly improving basis for deciding how best to communicate the complex and subtle issues of science that affect individuals, communities, institutions, society, and the world. 

This conference is organized as part of two UCSB initiatives.  The first is UC Santa Barbara’s new Mellichamp Academic Initiative in Sustainability. Dr. Susannah Scott is the Director of the Initiative and the first Mellichamp Chair in Sustainability.  The second is the biannual Arthur N. Rupe conference. Dr. Ronald E. Rice is the Rupe Professor in Social Effects of Mass Communication.

Co-sponsors include the Environmental Media Initiative of the Carsey-Wolf Center, and a year-long series on The Anthropocene sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center.

The conference will be filmed and available through UCTV – the University of California’s video distribution system (cable, satellite, on-demand streaming, and downloading).  Attendance at the conference is free and no registration is necessary; however, please reserve your free movie ticket through the Carsey-Wolf website.