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SPEAKER: Kevin Elliott

TITLE: Communicating about Climate Research: Navigating the Challenges of Transparency

Abstract: Climate research, like many areas of policy-relevant science, is permeated with difficult judgments about how best to model the phenomena under investigation, what assumptions to make, how to weigh different forms of evidence, and how to handle various forms of uncertainty. Transparency is widely touted as a way to handle these judgments responsibly. If climate researchers are open about the judgments they are making, so the thinking goes, other scientists and policy makers can make their own decisions about how they want to respond. This talk explores the challenges associated with the effort to be transparent, including not only the difficulty of recognizing all these judgments but also the choices involved in deciding how to communicate about them to different audiences. I will argue that current initiatives designed to make science more open are geared primarily toward achieving transparency for members of the scientific community, and I will highlight avenues for pursuing transparency in ways that are more meaningful to other stakeholders and community members.

Kevin Elliott is a professor of philosophy with joint appointments in Lyman Briggs College, the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University. He works at the intersection of the philosophy of science, research ethics, and environmental ethics, focusing on the roles that ethical and social values play in scientific research.

The Science and Values in Climate Risk Management Speaker Series hosts invited speakers to generate discussion bridging the scientific and ethical sides of climate change research. The speakers will present new ideas designed for an interdisciplinary audience.

This series is organized by the Center for Climate Risk Management and the Climate and Sustainability Ethics Initiative in the Rock Ethics Institute, which is convened by Casey Helgeson, Klaus Keller, and Nancy Tuana.