My academic scholarship investigates environmental communication from a macro-sociological view of social conflict and cultural change, primarily now in the form of nonfiction essays and books about human relationships with the natural world. Of particular interest is the social organization of climate silence and alternative forms of engagement with climate change.
Another interest is the highly complex and interactive factors that “drive” and influence media coverage, which I have investigated for topics such as climate change, wildlife, and cancer. My perspective holds that mass media are less a “watchdog” of the public interest than a fairly cautious business that closely watches the existing power structure for clues as to what’s “newsworthy” and important. This makes the media more often agents of social control (“guard-dogs,” if you will, of the existing power structure) than champions of social change. The media may write about and appear to support social change efforts, but generally only after select champions of change have received legitimation, either from powerful individuals in the social system, or at times, the general public.
Most of my research into attitude and behavior change was undertaken to help non-profit organizations with various communication goals, such as reducing short car trips, conserving riparian areas, improving air quality, and making personal health changes.
Here are links to select journal articles and chapters.