Faculty focused on science and environmental communication examine and evaluate how messages affect the public’s attitudes and opinions relative to complex and controversial science, environment, and risk topics.
Examining Processes Involved in Media Effects:
Faculty in the Edward R. Murrow College examine the factors and underlying processes involved in media effects. For example, faculty assess how messages may trigger emotional reactions and how people may shift their beliefs on important environmental, science, and risk related issues. Moreover, faculty and the graduate students who study with them, examine whether emotions or attitudes will result in behavioral changes relative to issues such as climate change and water conservation.
Assessing and Evaluating Communication Strategies.
Faculty have completed numerous studies examining whether the effects of messages vary by different audiences. Researchers have assessed existing beliefs, traits, and cultural values of audiences to increase message clarity and effectiveness. For example, faculty create different messages related to the topic of interest (e.g., climate change, contaminants, water conservation) and assess whether messages resonate with a specific audience. The primary goal of this research is to determine and develop effective, clear and culturally-relevant messages that improve personal and global health.
Understanding Messages within the Media.
Faculty focusing on science, environmental and risk communication examine why certain messages appear within the media system. This line of research focuses on examining the content of messages assessing whether the media emphasize or deemphasize certain pieces of a story (e.g., frame a story a certain way). They also attempt to assess whether the message created by the media vary by location, source, or content area (e.g., entertainment vs. news).