Title: Public perception and Understanding of Geoscience and Related Activities
Researchers: Dr Teresa Hooks, Dr Geertje Schuitema
Public perception of geoscience activities related to research, energy, minerals and water resources differs strongly (GSI, 2015). People’s attitudes to geoscience activities are assumed to be based on people’s assessment of different characteristics of the activities (e.g., visibility, invasiveness) but also on the public’s understanding of related geoscience issues (e.g., perceived costs/ benefits, perceived risks).
The first aim of this project is to systematically study the public’s perception and understanding of the geosciences and to identify what underlies their attitudes to geoscience activities. An improved understanding will underpin considerations of public acceptance or rejection of these activities and inform future research on public perception of geoscience projects.
The second aim is to compare the public’s understanding with that of experts. A better understanding of how and why both experts and the public perceive different activities is likely to facilitate better communication between them. The project has qualitative and quantitative parts that complement each other.
Aims and objectives:
- Map geological activities by using literature reviews and interviews with experts to categorize geoscience activities based on various aspects that influence how the public perceives and understands them.
- Identify the most important underlying factors that influence public perception of geological activities (via interviews and a series of surveys of the general public).
- Understand the most important underlying factors that explain experts’ perception of geological activities (via interviews).
- Based on the empirical results, provide guidelines to improve communication between the public and geoscientists. The plan is to disseminate these guidelines via an online communication platform and in workshops.
- The results of this project will form a baseline for future research projects in the Public Perception and Understanding Cluster.