Communicating Science in Sustainable Communities

What is CSICS?

Sustainability brings science, public policy and community values and knowledge together to understand how we should live in an age of pressing global change and increasingly scarce resources. In the face of climate change, population growth and rapid urbanization, sustainability requires more than just good science and engineering. It also requires prudent policy making, collaborative planning, and dialogue between communities, researchers and decision makers. CSISC works to understand the intersection between science and society, between ethics and economics, between experts and citizens. And CSISC develops research methodologies and practical strategies to manage the complexity that characterizes sustainability in the age of risk and extreme uncertainty.

Because climate change is one of the major sources of uncertainty and change facing work in sustainability, CSISC focuses its energy on understanding the social and communication challenges of climate change. Climate change science is a robust field. While there is much still to learn and a great deal of uncertainty in climate science, we know a great deal about the causes and dynamics of climate change. The communication challenges associated with climate change are equally complex and pressing. The researchers in CSISC believe that understanding the social perception of climate change, the resistance to the idea of anthropogenic climate change, and the mechanisms of social and political change are crucial to the larger project of sustainability.

CSISC addresses two simple but compelling questions: 1. Given how much we already know about climate change and its consequences, why have we done so little to change the scenario? 2. And, what do we need to know and do to facilitate social and political change?

The faculty and graduate students affiliated with CSISC come from a variety of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Our collective goal is to improve the communication between the many communities engaged in building a more livable, just and sustainable world and to develop strategies to create change. Given the complexity of that task, CSISC integrates the research methodologies, conceptual frames and practical experience of many scholars in an interdisciplinary effort.