Social Science for Climate Change
Susan Moser

Communicating Climate Change: Effective Public Engagement for Social Change


Engaging communities on climate change is critically important. Scientists and decision-makers need to help the public understand the challenges and opportunities we face; and we need everyone’s input to shape, support and implement mitigation and adaptation policies that will steer society toward a more sustainable future.

It sounds obvious, but it’s not easy. Public understanding of climate change, concern about impacts and engagement on the various response options remain variable and limited. Many experience persistent challenges in reaching their audiences, making climate change meaningful, and encouraging people to change old habits, make climate-wise decisions, and support necessary policy changes.

In recent years, a new interdisciplinary field of climate change communication has emerged, which I have helped to shape. Social scientists are developing a better understanding of what works and what does not, and thus are helping to develop more effective communication strategies.

Since 2004, my work on communication of climate change has focused on:
• researching ways to effectively engage the public on climate change
• advancing research and practice of climate change communication
• educating and training scientists, advocates, government officials, and others on how to improve their communication and public engagement practices to facilitate social change.

My work has resulted in numerous peer-reviewed articles, presentations, trainings, and an edited volume published with Lisa Dilling (University of Colorado): Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change, Cambridge University Press (2007).

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