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date: 23 April 2017

Scientists as Climate Change Communicators, Educators, and Advocates

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. Please check back later for the full article.

Scientists who study issues such as climate change are often called on by their colleagues and by broader society to share what they know and why it matters. Many are willing to do so—and do it well, but others are unwilling or may communicate in ways that fail to achieve their goals. Many also fail to set clear goals for their communication. There are several central topics involved in the study of scientists as communicators. First, it is important to understand the evolving arguments behind why scientists are being called on to get involved in public engagement about contentious issues such as climate change. Second, it is useful to consider the factors that social science suggests actually lead scientists to communicate about scientific issues. Finally, it is important to consider what scientists are actually trying to achieve through their communication activities and to what extent they are achieving their desired communication goals.