Climate change engagement in the “Deep South challenge” – Integrating theory into practice

Climate change engagement in the “Deep South challenge” – Integrating theory into practice

Author: Rhian Salmon – Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Joanna Goven – Victoria University of Wellington

In 2013, new government investment in science research led to the creation of “National Science Challenges” that were expected to “respond to the most important, national-scale issues and opportunities identified by science stakeholders and the New Zealand public” and “have major and enduring benefits for New Zealand”. The resultant eleven cross-disciplinary, collaborative research programmes are primarily focused on human health and living conditions, environmental issues, and science innovation. The Challenges are not only meant to be informed by the priorities of New Zealand’s publics, but “public outreach, communication, public engagement, and education activities” are also expected. Knowledge transfer and effective public and end-user engagement are fundamental to the Mission of every Challenge.

We will discuss the prioritization and development of “Engagement” within one of these Challenges, the Deep South Challenge, which has a mission “to transform the way New Zealanders adapt, manage risk, and thrive in a changing climate”. The goal of the associated Engagement Strategy is to “improve New Zealanders’ ability and capacity to make decisions informed by DSC-related research”.

The presentation will explore tensions between delivering a robust and theoretically-grounded engagement strategy with the need to meet (or manage) “outreach” expectations from the science community, government funders, and different publics and end-users, and issues associated with connecting this publics-oriented mission with its core science research culture.

The presentation will use examples of engagement activities in the Deep South Challenge to illustrate different models for science engagement in practice, including a focus on dialogue, co-production and evaluation, and outline how this action research is contributing to bridging the theory-practice divide often experienced in science communication.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Applying science communication research to practice