Tweeting on thin ice: Scientists in dialogic climate change communication with the public

Authors

  • Lucia Casiraghi Department of French and Italian, Indiana University Bloomington
  • Eugene Kim The Media School, Indiana University Bloomington
  • Noriko Hara Department of Information & Library Science, Indiana University Bloomington

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v29i6.13543

Keywords:

Public Engagement with Science, Social Media, Science Communication, Climate Change Communication

Abstract

This study examines the dynamics of interactions between climate scientists and the public on Twitter, utilizing a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. It explores scientists' tweets, public responses, and the factors influencing the "two-way" interactions and engagement with climate change issues. The findings indicate that scientists' personal disclosures and discussions of their professional lives significantly influence public engagement, particularly resonating with fellow scientists. Conversely, professional accomplishments often elicit more skeptical or critical responses from the public, highlighting the need for contextually relevant communication for lay audiences. Additionally, the study emphasizes the role of visual content, such as images and videos, in enhancing the accessibility and appeal of scientific information on social media. Furthermore, the current study uncovers a spectrum of public attitudes towards climate change, ranging from support to skepticism. It underscores the importance of acknowledging these diverse perspectives in climate communication. The use of humor and references to popular culture in public responses suggests an engaging and relatable approach to the topic. Ultimately, the study concludes that effective science communication on social media necessitates a nuanced understanding of audience perceptions, strategic utilization of visual elements, and a focus on fostering dialogic and participatory conversations, as argued by the public engagement with science (PES) model. This approach not only enhances public engagement with scientific content but also promotes broader civic awareness and participation in scientific dialogues about climate change, especially on social media platforms like Twitter.

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Published

2024-06-08

How to Cite

Casiraghi , L., Kim, E., & Hara, N. (2024). Tweeting on thin ice: Scientists in dialogic climate change communication with the public. First Monday, 29(6). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v29i6.13543