Professor Matthew Nisbet of the School of Communication at American University delivers an STS colloquium talk titled “Disruptive Ideas: Public Intellectuals and their Arguments for Action on Climate Change” on Thursday, March 27 from 4:00-5:30 pm in Buchanan Tower 1197.
In this presentation, I review three distinct groups of prominent public intellectuals arguing for action on climate change. I discuss how these individuals establish and maintain their authority, how their ideas and arguments spread and diffuse by way of the media, and how they shape the assumptions of global networks of activists, philanthropists, journalists, and academics. Then, for each group, drawing on their main works, I describe how they define the social implications of climate change and the barriers to addressing the problem, their vision of a future society and their favored policy actions, their outlook on nature and technology, and their views on politics and social change. In the conclusion, I discuss the need for investment in media and public forums that strengthen our civic capacity to learn, debate, and collaborate in ways that take advantage of different discourses, ideas and voices.
Matthew C. Nisbet is Associate Professor of Communication and Affiliate Associate Professor of Global Environmental Politics and Environmental Science at American University, Washington D.C. His research focuses on the role of communication and the media in debates over science, technology and the environment. The author of more than 70 peer-reviewed studies, articles and book chapters, he is a former Shorenstein Fellow on the Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University and currently serves as a member of the U.S. National Academies Roundtable Committee on Public Interfaces in the Life Sciences.