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Oil, floods, and fish: the social role of environmental scientists


  • Amy Lesen



The environmental and social effects of hurricane-related flooding and the recent oil disaster in southeastern Louisiana, and the current global crisis in world fisheries, are case studies that reveal the need for scientific work that is carried out and disseminated with conscious attention paid to the important relationship between scientists, other experts and scholars such as social scientists, and community members and policy makers. In this paper, I discuss the following questions facing environmental scientists: How do we produce rigorous science that also has policy implications and import for the lives and livelihoods of citizens? How do we communicate this science to those policy makers and citizens in a way that maintains the integrity of the science and the scientist while also respecting the concerns of the audience? How do we design our research programs to be useful to surrounding communities? How can we involve those communities and policy makers in our research in effective and respectful ways? Is it possible to carry out scientifically rigorous civically engaged research? There is increasing interest within academia in incorporating social, civic, and policy concerns into teaching and research. Environmental scientists must continue to think deeply about our roles in the civic arena. Copyright AESS 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Amy Lesen, 2012. "Oil, floods, and fish: the social role of environmental scientists," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 2(3), pages 263-270, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jenvss:v:2:y:2012:i:3:p:263-270
    DOI: 10.1007/s13412-012-0085-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. W.Neil Adger, 2001. "Scales of governance and environmental justice for adaptation and mitigation of climate change," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(7), pages 921-931.
    2. Sen, Sevaly & Raakjaer Nielsen, Jesper, 1996. "Fisheries co-management: a comparative analysis," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 405-418, September.
    3. Tomas M. Koontz & Elizabeth Moore Johnson, 2004. "One size does not fit all: Matching breadth of stakeholder participation to watershed group accomplishments," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 37(2), pages 185-204, June.
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