Communicating science amid environmental controversy : how scientists interact with policy in the San Francisco Bay-Delta
Author(s)Simmons, Erica (Erica Kathleen)
How scientists interact with policy in the San Francisco Bay-delta
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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In controversies over environmental management, participants often call for policies based on the best available science. However, environmental controversies are rarely simply disputes over scientific knowledge; instead, they are driven by stakeholders' conflicting interests and values. In this context, science often becomes a part of the political dispute, used and interpreted differently by different actors in the policy process. Scientists, therefore, face the challenge of communicating their research to non-scientific audiences-such as stakeholders, policy makers, and the general public-in a highly politicized context. This essay examines how scientists perceive their role in the policy process and how they navigate the intersection of science and policy in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, a region that has been the site of decades of scientific research and controversy over environmental management. This essay examines three cases: the CALFED Science Program, which built a policy-neutral body of research to support a collaborative planning process in the Bay-Delta that began in 2000; the interdisciplinary Bay- Delta policy reports which scientists from the University of California, Davis and the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) have published from 2007 to 2013 in reaction to policy failures; and a series of radio stories and interactive web maps that the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) produced in 2012 with KQED, a San-Francisco-based public media station, to communicate their research to a general California audience. These cases show how scientists in the Bay-Delta have struggled with the tension between communicating their research in a way that is salient to policy discussions and maintaining their legitimacy within scientific and policy communities. They also show an increasing political sophistication among scientists in the Bay- Delta as they have continued to engage in the policy process and an expanding scale of engagement, from working directly with the policy community to communicating about Bay- Delta ecology and policy with the general public. These approaches, while different, complement each other, demonstrating how scientists can communicate their research in a variety of ways depending on their relationship to the policy community.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2013.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 59-63).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.