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The Communication of Space and Earth Science Information to Policyrelevant Audiences:

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Officers and board members of major corporations involved in science or engineering. ... Approximately 8,500 individuals qualified as a science policy leader in 2003. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Communication of Space and Earth Science Information to Policyrelevant Audiences:


1
The Communication of Space and Earth Science
Information to Policy-relevant Audiences A
strategy to enhance the scientific and ecological
literacy of national policy leaders and
policy-interested citizens
Jon D. Miller Professor and Director Center for
Biomedical Communication The Feinberg School of
Medicine Northwestern University
2
Almost all human communication is purposeful.
  • When we seek to transmit ideas or information or
    feelings, we generally know who we would like to
    receive the message and how we would like that
    person or group to respond. When we ask a
    question, we know what kind of information or
    response that we would like to have.
  • Infants make two kinds of noises. Some noises are
    an effort to indicate that they are hungry,
    uncomfortable, scared, or tired and they want
    someone to do something. But infants also make
    some noises because they enjoy the sound. We
    refer to this kind of noise as babbling. As
    infants grow into adults, they usually become
    more skilled in communicating messages and the
    proportion of babble drops substantially.
  • Generally, organizations seek to improve their
    ability to communicate ideas and messages as they
    mature. Some organizations and agencies, however,
    like to hear their own voice and continue to
    produce a significant level of babble.

3
My purpose today is to provide a framework for
thinking about the purposes for the communication
of space science and earth science information
and to identify the audiences relevant to those
purposes. I will also talk about some
strategies for communicating messages to relevant
audiences.
4
It seems to me that there are three primary
purposes for the communication of space science
and earth science information by the NASA and
Goddard communities.
  • First, as a governmental agency, it is important
    to inform decision-makers, policy leaders, and
    interested citizens about the need for space
    exploration and for the observation and
    monitoring of our Earth and solar system and the
    value of the resulting advances in space science
    and earth science.
  • Second, it is important to inform
    decision-makers, relevant policy leaders, and
    interested citizens about the progress,
    achievements, and problems associated with the
    exploration of space and the understanding of our
    solar system and our home planet.
  • Third, it is important in a democratic society to
    share the awe, the wonder, and the excitement of
    space exploration and our growing knowledge of
    our universe, our solar system, our Sun, and our
    home planet with all students and adults in this
    country and throughout the world.

5
There are four primary audiences that four major
audiences that need to understand the need for
the program, the value of the results, and the
progress and problems associated with your
programs.
  • Decision-makers in the executive and legislative
    branches of the federal government.
  • Policy leaders in corporations, universities,
    professional societies, and environmental
    organizations.
  • Citizens who are interested in and attentive to
    science, technology, space, or environmental
    policy issues.
  • All children and adults in the United States and
    throughout the world.

6
The critical question is how to convey
information and messages to these audiences in a
manner that will be understandable by the
recipients and that will serve the purposes and
needs of NASA and Goddard.
  • We will want to look at the current levels of
    knowledge and current attitudes for each of our
    four potential audiences.
  • Prior turning to that task, it is important to
    take a short detour and talk about how science
    and technology policy is made in democratic
    political systems like the United States.

7
It is useful to think about how we make public
policy in the United States.
  • Elections are important because they determine
    the individuals and parties that control major
    branches of government. Selecting the occupants
    of the White House, Senate, and House of
    Representatives are important decisions.
  • Presidential elections are usually determined by
    a small set of broad issues and by public
    perceptions of leadership characteristics and
    ability.
  • Most legislative seats are safe and fewer than
    10 of legislative seats at the national level
    are at risk each year.
  • This electoral system produces a set of office
    holders and provides some broad policy framework
    for the country, but it sometimes produces
    policy gridlock. It usually provides limited
    guidance on specific science or technology or
    space policy issues.

8
On specialized issues such as science,
technology, and space policy, elections provide
limited guidance.
  • No presidential candidate has ever been elected
    or defeated because of a science policy issue.
  • No House or Senate candidate has ever been
    elected or defeated over a science policy issue.

9
Science, technology, and space policy issues are
decided outside the electoral process. Rosenau
calls this citizenship between elections.
10
A stratified model of the formulation of public
policy
Decision Makers
Policy Leaders
Attentive Public
Interested Public
Residual Public
11
A stratified model of the formulation of public
policy
Decision Makers
Policy Leaders
Attentive Public
Interested Public
Residual Public
12
For science, technology, and space policy, the
decision-makers include
  • The President and his cabinet members with
    responsibilities for science, technology, and
    space policy and the heads of selected agencies.
  • The leadership of the House or Senate and the
    members of House and Senate committees that have
    responsibility for science, technology, and space
    policy matters.
  • On some occasions, the members of the Supreme
    Court and judges in the federal judiciary.
  • The total number of decision-makers in science,
    technology, and space policy is approximately 200.

13
A stratified model of the formulation of public
policy
Decision Makers
Policy Leaders
Attentive Public
Interested Public
Residual Public
14
For science, technology, and space policy, the
policy leaders include
  • The officers and board members of national
    scientific and engineering societies and
    associations.
  • Members of the NAS, NAE, and IOM.
  • Officers and board members of major corporations
    involved in science or engineering.
  • Officers of universities engaged in a significant
    level of scientific or engineering research.
  • Winners of a Nobel Prize or a Fields Medal.
  • Individuals who testified before a congressional
    committee (House or Senate) on a science policy
    matter.
  • Members of major executive branch science
    advisory committees at the secretarial or agency
    level.
  • Approximately 8,500 individuals qualified as a
    science policy leader in 2003.

15
Within this pyramidal system, policy leaders play
a critical role by
  • Monitoring public policy from the perspective of
    the scientific or energy community and defining
    critical issues that need to be addressed.
  • Organizing other leaders to identify policy
    solutions and to advance those policy solutions
    to decision-makers.
  • Negotiating with decision-makers about policy
    choices.
  • Organizing the appropriate attentive public or
    publics when direct negotiations with policy
    makers are not productive or when there is
    significant disagreement among policy leaders
    themselves.

16
A stratified model of the formulation of public
policy
Decision Makers
Policy Leaders
Attentive Public
Interested Public
Residual Public
17
The attentive public for science, technology, and
space policy includes all adults who
  • report that they are very interested in new
    scientific discoveries, new inventions and
    technologies, or space exploration, and
  • indicate that they are very well informed about
    either new scientific discoveries, or new
    inventions and technologies, or space
    exploration, and
  • are regular readers of a daily newspaper, a
    weekly news magazine, or a monthly science
    magazine regular viewers of television news
    programming or frequent users of the Internet to
    obtain science-related information.
  • In 2004, 12 of American adults were attentive to
    science, technology, space, or environmental
    policy issues, or about 26 million individuals.

18
A stratified model of the formulation of public
policy
Decision Makers
Policy Leaders
Attentive Public
Interested Public
Residual Public
19
A stratified model of the formulation of public
policy
Decision Makers
Policy Leaders
Attentive Public
Interested Public
Residual Public
20
Strategies.
  • I want to talk about strategies for communicating
    with each of the four audiences that I think are
    critical to your mission and your program.
  • I will start with decision-makers and then talk
    about science and space policy leaders.
  • I will look at the attentive publics for science,
    technology, space, and environmental issues.
  • And I will conclude by talking about the messages
    that you should direct to the broader or general
    public.

21
As an executive branch agency, NASA must report
first and primarily to the President.
  • It is important to communicate your successes and
    your problems to the White House and NASA
    headquarters is responsible for that linkage.
  • It is also important to communicate to other
    executive branch agencies and to share results
    and opportunities.
  • All of your collaborators, contractors, and
    grantees have two Senators and at least one House
    member.
  • And all of you belong to scientific groups and
    organizations that sometimes communicate with
    both executive and legislative branch
    decision-makers.

22
Science and technology policy leaders, space
policy leaders, and environmental policy leaders
are a second important audience with whom you
need to communicate.
  • In the stratified model of policy formulation
    that I outlined earlier, these leaders play an
    important role in the policy making process.
  • NASA has tended to take the support of the
    scientific community for granted.
  • The results of recent national studies of science
    and space policy leaders point to some serious
    problems that need to be addressed.

23
Leadership attitudes toward selected space policy
issues.
24
Leadership attitudes to other space policy issues.
25
Leadership priorities for federal spending, 2003.
26
Leadership priorities for federal spending, 2003.
27
Leadership priorities for federal spending, 2003.
28
Leadership priorities for federal spending, 2003.
29
Leadership priorities for federal spending, 2003.
30
NASA is not perceived as doing a good job by
space policy leaders.
31
Leadership assessment of areas of NASA management.
32
Leadership understanding of selected concepts.
CU clear understanding GS general
understanding LF less familiar
33
Leadership trust in information sources.
34
The third major audience with whom you need to
communicate is the attentive publics for science,
technology, space, and environmental issues.
  • In January 2004, approximately 12 of American
    adults or 26 million individuals were
    attentive to science, technology, space, or
    environmental issues.
  • An additional 73 of American adults or 160
    million individuals were interested in these
    issues but did not think that they were well
    informed about these matters.
  • It is important to recognize that the attentive
    public becomes involved in the policy formulation
    process only when there is a major disagreement
    among policy leaders and when the policy
    leadership groups appeal to these attentive
    citizens to make their views known to
    decision-makers.

35
Public attitude toward a manned mission to Mars,
2004.
36
Public attitude toward a permanent base on the
Moon, 2005.
37
Public attitude toward the space station, 2005.
38
The fourth audience is all of the children and
adults in our society.
  • In a democratic society, it is appropriate to
    share the excitement, wonder, and awe of space
    exploration, including the monitoring and
    measurement of our own planet.
  • In general, I think that NASA does a reasonably
    good job in this area. The combination of school
    programs, museum programs, and television
    coverage of major launch and space activities
    provides an acceptable level of access in the
    United States and throughout the world.
  • NASA should continue these programs and always
    seek to make them qualitatively better, but there
    is not a compelling case to expand these
    activities as a part of a general communication
    plan.

39
What can we conclude from this review of the
purposes, audiences, and strategies for the
communication of space and earth science
information?
  • NASA has multiple purposes and multiple
    audiences. It is essential to recognize and
    emphasize the multiple faceted nature of NASA to
    decision-makers, policy leaders, and interested
    and attentive citizens.
  • The most serious problem facing NASA in the
    short-term is a serious erosion of support among
    science policy leaders and space policy leaders.
    These leaders are far more influential and far
    more important than any segment of the public in
    the formulation of space policy.
  • In the spirit of a multi-purpose agency, it is
    critical for NASA to unbundle its communication
    program and to avoid putting all of its eggs in
    one basket. There are strong bases of support for
    deep space probes and for continued and improved
    monitoring of Earth and of our solar system.
    These programs need to be able to advocate for
    their own future.
  • The manned mission to Mars currently lacks
    support from science and space policy leaders and
    from the attentive publics for science,
    technology, space, and the environment. NASA
    should make its case for this program but not
    link its fate to the rest of NASAs programs.

40
A copy of this presentation and a written paper
are available upon request from j-miller8_at_nort
hwestern.edu
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