skiff below Dawes Glacier, Alaska

My academic scholarship investigated 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 change has 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 specific communication goals.

Here are links to select journal articles and chapters.

Reconceptualizing the individual as a social actor in environmental communication (Routledge).

Climate change and relationships to place (Local Environment)

How the Arts & Humanities Help People See, Feel, and Engage with Climate Change (Oxford Encyclopedia)

Media Power & Climate Change (Nature Climate Change)

Communication Challenges for Sustainability

Testing Public (Un)Certainty of Science: Media Representations of Global Warming

The Theory of Planned Behavior

Women, Scientists, Agitators: Magazine Portrayal of Rachel Carson and Theo Colborn

Altruism, Self-interest, and the Reasonable Person Model of Environmentally Responsible Behavior

A Faint Green Sell

Motivations to Participate in Riparian Improvement Programs: Applying the Theory of Planned Behavior

Medicine, Media, and Celebrities: Media Coverage of Breast Cancer, 1960-1995

Gender-specific Cancers, Gender-specific Reporters? Twenty-four Years of Network TV Coverage

Media, Bureaucracy, and the Success of Social Protest: Newspaper Coverage of Environmental Movement Groups

The Environment as Theme and Package on a Local Television Newscast

When Wildlife Make the News: An Analysis of Rural and Urban North-central U.S. Newspapers