Alex Heeren's Graduate Defense Seminar
Alex Heeren, PhD candidate in Environmental Social Sciences, will present Identifying the Problem or Identifying the Solution? The Role of Motivated Reasoning and Identify Politics in Environmental Science for his Graduate Defense Seminar to be held in 370 Kottman Hall.
Public opinion polls show that people are generally concerned about environmental problems. Yet, policies to address environmental and natural resource problems are often contentious and controversial issues. The way an individual perceives an environmental problem may influence his or her support for the policies to address that issue. Likewise, an individual’s support for a specific policy could influence the way he or she perceives the problem. Therefore, an individual’s reasoning about an environmental issue might be circular, with his or her values, ideologies, affiliations and identities influencing perceptions about the problem and policies to address the problem. I examine how individuals in the Maumee River Watershed, the largest of Lake Erie’s watersheds, perceive Lake Erie’s algal bloom issue using three different methods. First I examine the role the media has in portraying and framing Lake Erie’s algal blooms using a content analysis of newspaper articles. Second, I look at how agricultural, rural and urban communities living near and distant to Lake Erie perceive and discuss the algal blooms and policies to address the algal blooms using a series of focus groups. Third, I examine how different forms of farmer identity contribute to how farmers perceive conservation practices using a Structural Equation Model. This presentation summarizes these projects and discusses the implications that public perception has on participatory decision-making in the natural resources.