Student-lead Case Studies and Sub-projects

Since this is my first blog post for the Production of Public Understanding of Science, I would like to take this opportunity to express how excited I am to be able to count myself as a member of this team. To learn more about me and my involvement with the project, please see Matthew’s post about my joining the project or my professional webpage.

Over the past year, the PoPUS team has worked on the theoretical side of public understanding of science, striving to develop a philosophical theory of understanding and its relevance to science education and communication. This work continues, but we are also branching into some empirical research on several sub-projects and case studies. Our student research assistants will be spearheading each of these projects, and developing both this_is_file_name_2552theoretical and empirical approaches to each case.

The first of these case studies will be examining the role of intellectual virtues — such as curiosity, open-mindedness, and so on — in individual effort to understand complex scientific topics. Melissa Hopkins and Julia Bresticker are leading this project, and will be drawing on recent work in virtue epistemology as a theoretical framework for this case study, which will include methodologies from Psychological research.

The second sub-project will be spearheaded by Jeff Bergman and Mack Jones. These students, with the help of their fellow researchers, will be conducting an in-depth literature analysis using digital text visualization and analysis software. The goal of this project is to get a better sense of the of the public understanding of science literature across several different academic fields, and the relation of previously existing work in the social sciences to the way philosophers think about understanding.

The third student-led case study examines communication methodologies, and more specifically communication styles and tools, used for conveying scientific information to the public. Nicolas Diaz and Nate Aspinall, who will be leading this study, will be utilizing anthropological, sociological, and educational methodologies to study various communication tools for complex scientific processes. They will be assessing the best strategies for communication based on understanding and resilience of true beliefs.

Finally, Victor LoPiccolo and Carolyn McGlynn will be spearheading research into public trust in science and scientists, specifically when it comes to matters of public health and well-being such as the safety of childhood vaccines and the urgency of the climate change threat. They will be assessing effectiveness of various sources of information, measuring public trust, and identifying potential ways to improve scientific communication efficacy.

I think I speak for the entire group when I say that we are eager to move forward with these projects and are excited to see where each one takes us. Expect more updates to come!

“Merchants of Doubt” with Panel Discussion

Merchants of Doubt

November 5th–6th, 2015 The PoPUS Project is delighted to announce a special public showing of the recent, critically-acclaimed documentary by Robert Kenner, “Merchants of Doubt”, based on the 2010 book by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway. The film features prominently Professor Oreskes, as well as climate scientist (and previous PoPUS visitor) Michael Mann, and “honest liar” Jamy Ian […]

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Student Research Team

Jason and Jo

Building on the philosophical approach we took to recent work in the social science of science communication last year, we will begin to pursue some empirical work of our own this year with the help of our new postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Jo Huxster, and an expanded team of student research assistants. We bade a fond farewell […]

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The Project Continues!

Dr. Huxster with University of Delaware students

While our funding from the Varieties of Understanding Project officially concluded at the end of June, we’re extremely excited to announce that the Production of Public Understanding of Science (PoPUS) will continue for several more years thanks to a generous grant from the President’s Office at Bucknell. Even more exciting is the fact that this funding has […]

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Varieties of Understanding Midpoint Conference

VoU 2015 002

The Varieties of Understanding Project, which has funded our work for this year put on their first project conference. This “Midpoint Conference” (the project continues for the psychologists — data collection takes time, it turns out!) involved all of the grant-winners as well as commentators and plenary speakers for the Capstone Conference to come in […]

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SRPoiSE Conference 2015

Victor, Rachel, Jeff, and Matthew exploring Detroit

A subset of the PoPUS crew recently traveled to Detroit, MI to present at the Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering (SRPoiSE) Conference. Three of our research assistants joined us and got a taste of what happens when you put a bunch of philosophers together in a room for a few days. We received […]

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Anthony Leiserowitz, “Climate Change in the American Mind”


Wednesday, April 8th @ 7PM Forum (272 Elaine Langone Center) RSVP on Facebook Here and help spread the word! The Production of Public Understanding of Science Project is pleased to announce that Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, research scientist at the Yale University School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Director of the Yale Project on Climate […]

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Themes from Mann’s Visit

Professor Mann in the student breakfast discussion.

We’ve had a very exciting week here at the PoPUS project. We had the good fortune to enjoy a full day and a half with Professor Michael Mann—prominent climate scientist, bigtime advocate for public understanding of climate change, and perennial target of the slings and arrows of outrageous denialism. Our indefatigable guest not only delivered […]

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Michael Mann, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: The Battle Continues”

Professor Michael Mann

Wednesday, March 4th @ 7PM Forum (272 Elaine Langone Center) — RSVP on Facebook Here and help spread the word! Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University and renowned climate scientist Michael Mann will give an evening lecture on his scientific and outreach work. For nearly two decades, Mann has worked to improve our understanding […]

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Dispatches from the AAAS


Jason and I attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in San José, California in mid-February and were pleased to see — not surprisingly — a great deal of interest in science communication. In addition to attending some top-notch, cutting-edge scientific lectures, we wanted to get a sense of where the […]

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