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Abstract

Though the scientific community largely agrees that climate change is underway, debates about this issue remain fiercely polarized. These conversations have become a rhetorical contest, one where opposing sides try to achieve victory through playing on fear, distrust, and intolerance. At its heart, this split no longer concerns carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, or climate modeling; rather, it is the product of contrasting, deeply entrenched worldviews. This presentation examines what causes people to reject or accept the scientific consensus on climate change. Synthesizing evidence from sociology, psychology, and political science, Andrew J. Hoffman lays bare the opposing cultural lenses through which science is interpreted. He then extracts lessons from major cultural shifts in the past to engender a better understanding of the problem and motivate the public to take action. How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate makes a powerful case for a more scientifically literate public, a more socially engaged scientific community, and a more thoughtful mode of public discourse.

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Speaker Bio

Andy Hoffman is the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan; a position that holds joint appointments at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources & Environment.  Within this role, Andy also serves as Director of the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. Andy's research uses a sociological perspective to understand the cultural and institutional aspects of environmental issues for organizations. He has published over one-hundred articles/book chapters and eleven books, which have been translated into five languages.  Among his list of honors, he has been awarded the Maggie Award (2013), JMI Breaking the Frame Award (2012), Connecticut Book Award (2011), the Aldo Leopold Fellowship (2011), the Aspen Environmental Fellowship (2011 and 2009), the Manos Page Prize (2009), the Faculty Pioneer Award (2003), the Rachel Carson Book Prize (2001) and the Klegerman Award (1995). Prior to academics, Andy worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency (Region 1), Metcalf & Eddy Environmental Consultants, T&T Construction & Design and the Amoco Corporation. Andy serves on advisory boards for ecoAmerica, Next Era Renewable Energy Trust, SustainAbility, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, the Center for Environmental Innovation and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Article topics: MconneX , Climate Change