Support The World's Smartest Network

Help the New York Academy of Sciences bring late-breaking scientific information about the COVID-19 pandemic to global audiences. Please make a tax-deductible gift today.

This site uses cookies.
Learn more.


This website uses cookies. Some of the cookies we use are essential for parts of the website to operate while others offer you a better browsing experience. You give us your permission to use cookies, by continuing to use our website after you have received the cookie notification. To find out more about cookies on this website and how to change your cookie settings, see our Privacy policy and Terms of Use.

We encourage you to learn more about cookies on our site in our Privacy policy and Terms of Use.


Framing Science: Ways to Engage Citizens and Shape Public Policy

Framing Science
Reported by
Leslie Knowlton

Posted June 25, 2007

Presented By

New York Academy of Sciences and the Science Alliance for Students and Postdocs


Prolonged controversies over issues such as evolution, stem cell research, and global climate change show that scientific knowledge itself is often not enough to win political debates, change government policies, or sway public opinion. That's because policymakers, the media, and the public use that knowledge in very different ways than the scientists who create it.

To explain forces behind transmission and reception of scientific findings, Matthew Nisbet of American University's School of Communication and Chris Mooney of Seed magazine and ScienceBlogs visited the Academy on June 4, 2007 in an event sponsored by the Science Alliance for Students and Postdocs. Their presentation reviewed research on public opinion and media coverage of science issues, with a particular emphasis on climate change, and employed case studies of ongoing scientific battles to illustrate the relative effectiveness of various communication strategies.

Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.

Web Sites

Speaking Science 2.0
Matthew Nisbet and Chris Mooney have been maintaining this blog tracking issues of the framing of the science in the public media.

The Intersection
More blogging on science and politics from Chris Mooney, with Sheril Kirshenbaum.

Framing Science
Matthew Nisbet's blog on science and communication.


Gamson W. 1992. Talking Politics. Cambridge University Press, New York.

Mooney C. 2007. Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming. Harcourt, New York.

Mooney C. 2005. The Republican War on Science. Basic Books, New York.

Wilson EO. 2006. The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth. W.W. Norton, New York.


Bauerlein V. 2006. Hurricane debate shatters civility of weather science. The Wall Street Journal (February 2). Full Text

Emanuel K. 2005. Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years. Nature 436: 686-688. Full Text (PDF, 152 KB)

Emanuel K, Anthes R, Curry J, et al. 2006. Statement on the U.S. hurricane problem. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (July 25). Full Text

Nisbet MC, Mooney C. 2007. Policy forum: framing science. Science 316: 56. Full Text (Follow instructions from Nisbet's site to access full article.)

Nisbet MC, Mooney C. 2007. Thanks for the facts. Now sell them. Washington Post (April 15). Full Text

Scheufele DA. 2006. Messages and heuristics: how audiences form attitudes about emerging technologies. In Turney J, ed. Engaging Science: Thoughts, Deeds, Analysis, and Action. The Wellcome Trust, London. Full Text (PDF, 146 KB)

Webster PG, Holland GJ, Curry JA, Chang H-R. 2005. Changes in tropical cyclone number, duration, and intensity in a warming environment. Science 309: 1844-1846.


Chris Mooney

Seed magazine and
e-mail | web site

Chris Mooney is Washington correspondent for Seed magazine and author of the bestselling book The Republican War on Science and of the newly published Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming. A graduate of Yale university, he has worked as an editor at The American Prospect, and his blog The Intersection was a recipient of Scientific American's 2005 Science and Technology Web award. He lectures regularly and has been featured on many popular programs in the national media.

Matthew C. Nisbet, PhD

American University
e-mail | web site

Matthew Nisbet is a professor in the School of Communication at American University where his research focuses on the intersections between science, media, and politics. He studies how news coverage reflects and shapes policy, how strategists try to mold public opinion, and how citizens make sense of controversies. He has analyzed a wide range of debates including those over stem cell research, global warming, intelligent design-creationism, plant biotechnology, and hurricanes. He completed his PhD in communication at Cornell University.

Leslie Knowlton

web site

Leslie Knowlton is a freelance writer based in New York City and on Deer Isle, Maine. With a master's degree in psychology, she spent more than a decade as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and a medical writer and contributing editor for the Psychiatric Times. Her work has also appeared in dozens of other newspapers and magazines including the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Cosmopolitan and Fitness.