Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why Should We Believe the Panel on Climate Change?

Greetings from the conference "Democratizing Climate Governance" at the Australian National University in Canberra. The opening talk was by Professor Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard) on "Knowing Climate Change: The Challenges and Opportunities of a Global Civic Epistemology". This was a wide ranging and very scholarly talk, which has some interesting practical implications. It came out in question time when a frustrated climate scientists asked essentially: "Why don't people believe us?" and the Professor's response was "Why should they?" . She was making the point that there is a substantial body of social science and educational research which shows that presenting supposedly pure scientific truth is not convincing.
In my Green ICT course we spend only part of the time on climate science and technology to deal with it. Most of the time is on how to communicate this in a corporate context. Earlier in the week I talked at Moodle Moot AU 2010. The point we were all in agreement on was that there was little
education value in simply using the technology to present facts to
students: we had to get them to discuss the issues. Australia now leads
the world in this technology and teaching technique, having developed the Moodle open source software. I wonder if it could be applied more widely to public discussions.

The conference program and abstracts are available. This event is timely as it appears the Australian Government is about to make an announcement on climate change measures.

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