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Constructed facts, contested truths: Science and environment controversies in media and public spaces

  • 08.01.2020
  • Brighton, UK

Constructed facts, contested truths: Science and environment controversies in media and public spaces.

MeCCSA 2020 Conference - Media Interactions and Environments will include a two-part workshop organized by the Science and Environment Communication section of ECREA. 

MeCCSA 2020 is held at University of Brighton, UK, on 8-10/1/2020, registration for the conference is open Here 

Section members are invited to carbon free online participation, for registration please contact: Shai Kassirer by 4/1/2020

A re-occurring theme in public debates is how to understand and talk about controversies pertaining to science and the environment. As climate change is pushed forward on the international political agenda and as new technologies emerge, dilemmas of how humans interact with nature, technologies, capital and each other once again become ever more present in public debate. This puts well-known as well as new quandaries on the current and future role of science in society into question. On the one hand, political actors rely on science to produce the facts and evidence required as inputs in decision-making. On the other hand, the privileged position of science to provide the answers is increasingly challenged in the public domain in the face of scientific uncertainty, complexity and disagreement. 

Recent developments in social and digital media have raised the issue of factuality and truths in public debate, in particular questions on how to maintain scientific integrity in an increasingly politicized environment. Moreover, media technologies increasingly invade the small-scale choices of everyday lives as well as larger societal and political questions on our interaction with the environment, technologies, health, risks etc. While authors in the field either endorse or take issue with the notion of post-truth, the question still remains how to make sense of the circulations of conflicting facts in current public debates on climate-change, pollution, vaccination, food safety and many other areas. This calls for a need to understand the role of media in conveying, spreading, contesting and constructing facts and truths about science and the environment.

In two connected workshops we address the question of how facts and truths are constructed and contested in the media or other public fora, in relation to environmental and scientific controversies. Each workshop will consist of 3-4 short paper presentations followed by a facilitated discussion based on pre-identified themes relevant to the papers. Attending members in the workshop will be encouraged to share their experience and practice on the topic, to bring their own ideas for environmentally-themed stories drawing on their own work and/or interests. 

Workshop 1: Visualising and debating facts in environmental discourse
Wednesday 8th of January 2020 (13:30-15:00 GMT; 14:30-16:00 CET)

Workshop 2: The role of facts and publics in a crisis of trust
Wednesday 8th of January 2020 (15:30-17:00 GMT, 16:30-18:00 CET)

Workshop organisers: Mette Marie Roslyng, Aalborg University Copenhagen; Shai Kassirer, Brighton University; Anna Maria Jönsson, Södertörn University



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