Loading Map....

Date(s) - April 1, 2024 - April 2, 2024
9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Longs Peak Room, Lory Student Center


Interdisciplinary Science Communication Workshop

Location: Longs Peak Room, LSC 302 (except Keynote which will be in the Lory Student Center Theatre)

This two-day workshop aims to improve science communication along a variety of dimensions by putting working scientists, historians of science, and philosophers of science in direct and continual interdisciplinary collaborations concerning the methods of science, the philosophical assumptions embedded in scientific practice, and how to communicate those methods and assumptions to the public in ways that improve trust in science.



Schedule of Events


Monday, April 1st

9:00-9:30: Coffee

9:30-10:30: Erin Welsh (This podcast will kill you)

10:35-11:35: Jaime Jacobsen (Colorado State University)

11:35-1:30: Presenter Lunch

1:30-2:30: Kristen Intemann (Montana State University)

6:00 pm: Open Panel Discussion @ Odell Brewing Company


Tuesday, April 2nd

 9:00-9:30: Coffee

9:30-10:30: Vanessa Schipani (University of Pennsylvania)

10:35-11:35: Michelle Francl (Bryn Mawr College)

11:35-1:00 pm: Presenter Lunch

2:00-3:00: Richelle Tanner (Chapman University)

3:00-4:00: Coffee with Students

4:00-6:00: Naomi Oreskes (Harvard University), Lory Student Center Theatre




Talk Titles and Abstracts


Erin Welsh, This Podcast Will Kill You

“Great question, I don’t know! Science communication through conversation.”

Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke created This Podcast Will Kill You in 2017, the last year of their PhDs, as an outlet to share their fascination with infectious diseases with anyone who would listen and to try to bridge the widening gap between academic research and the general public. Each episode of This Podcast Will Kill You explores a disease or other medical topic from biological, historical, and epidemiological perspectives and uses scientific storytelling to build connections with the audience, humanizing what can often be a very impersonal field. Their conversational approach serves to engage and entertain listeners while providing a low-pressure learning environment, and their willingness to engage with uncertainty when explaining complex topics helps to build and maintain trust with their audience. Over the last six years and over 150 episodes, This Podcast Will Kill You has reached millions of listeners around the world, scientists and non-scientists alike, and has worked towards demystifying how science is done to increase trust and understanding with the general public. In this talk, Erin shares some lessons in science communication, including the importance of striking a balance between clarity and depth, identifying sources of mis- and disinformation in public health topics, how to tailor your explanation for a specific audience, and why admitting what you don’t know is an undervalued strength.

Jaime Jacobsen, Center for Science Communication, Colorado State University

“Communicating Climate Adaptation & Climate Anxiety Through Non-Fiction Film” 

Politically charged topics like climate change present unique science communication challenges. In this talk, award-winning filmmaker Jaime Jacobsen discusses her work with Colorado agricultural producers to share stories about climate adaptation and climate anxiety through films produced by CSU’s Center for Science Communication.

Kristen Intemann, History & Philosophy, Montana State University

“Promoting Trust in Experts through Science Communication: Challenges and Opportunities”

Philosophers have argued that warranted trust in experts requires non-experts to have good reason to believe that experts are 1) epistemically competent, 2) morally reliable (e.g., honest), and 3) have a good will (e.g., care about public wellbeing).  Science communication can be done in ways that give non-experts reasons to think these conditions are met or, alternatively, in ways that might call into question one or more of these conditions.  Focusing on concrete examples from climate science to public health recommendations, several communication strategies are evaluated in relation to promoting warranted trust.  I show that what may promote trust can depend on the communication context, but also offer lessons for the factors experts must consider in thinking about how to communicate with non-experts so as to facilitate trust.

Vanessa Schipani, Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania

“How Should Journalists Communicate Scientific Disagreement?”

By bridging empirical and philosophical work on science communication, this talk compares journalistic norm conflicts that arose when reporting on COVID-19 and tobacco, among other policy-relevant scientific topics. I argue that the public’s image of scientists – as possessors of value-free knowledge, trustworthy only when in consensus – makes it particularly difficult for journalists to ethically communicate policy-relevant science rife with disagreement. In doing so, I show how journalists, like scientists, face what philosophers of science call the problem of inductive risk in such cases. To overcome this problem, I sketch a model of trust in science that is grounded in an alternative image of scientists – what I call the responsiveness model of trust in science. By highlighting the process of science over its product (value-free knowledge), the responsiveness model requires scientists to respond to new evidence and the public’s values to warrant the public’s trust. I then show why this model requires journalists to be the public’s watchdogs by verifying and communicating whether scientists are being properly responsive both epistemically and non-epistemically.

Michelle Francl, Chemistry, Bryn Mawr College

“Spilling the Tea: Putting Chemistry into Context”

German chemist and philosopher Wilhelm Ostwald entreated chemists to take care to show “the bones” of the science that supported their observations and reactions. A recently completed book on the chemistry of tea gave me the chance to consider how to reveal these hidden frameworks of chemistry for an audience of both chemists and non-chemists. Where do chemists locate their arguments? What questions are chemists asking and how do those questions change with time, place and the person asking them? How aware should chemists be of the historical tides that have shaped the questions we ask?

Richelle Tanner, Environmental Science & Policy, Chapman University

“Building trust, sense of belonging, and values-based language for diverse stakeholder collective action”

The Academy has long engaged in forms of science communication that champion few ways of knowing. We have acknowledged as a community that inclusion and diversity are key aspects of our future, but our methods of connecting with the public, our peers, and our students do not yet match our aspirational goals. My research focuses on the aspects of communication that draw together a community and further pinpoints language that improves literacy to have action-oriented conversations on common ground. In this talk, I will share three ongoing studies where my research group has approached these goals using multidisciplinary methodology across the social and natural sciences. We will first visit the California Delta, where an introduced plant’s coordinated management has been unsuccessful for decades due to distrusting landowner-manager relations. Then, we will move to Southern California, where inland, non-English speaking communities are excluded from coastal recreation zones and their climate resilience plans. Lastly, we will take a look inward at our own colleagues in Biology professional societies to understand how we may start to reform the cultural norms upheld by how we present scientific research at conferences and in journals.

Naomi Oreskes, Henry Charles Lea Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University

“How Market Fundamentalism Has Blocked Climate Action”

The world has known for decades that man-made climate change threatens our health, our wealth, and even the future on life on Earth as we know it. Yet, despite hundreds of major scientific reports, thousands of peer-reviewed articles, and a near unanimous consensus among climate scientists, political and social action has been inadequate to address the unfolding crisis. Worse, many American political leaders continue to deny that there even is a climate crisis.  In our first book, Merchants of Doubt, Erik Conway and I showed that climate change denial was rooted in market fundamentalism: the belief that government action in the marketplace threatens personal freedom and puts us on the “road to serfdom.”  In our new book, we show how market fundamentalism—linked to the rhetorical framework of the threat of “Big Government”–was cultured, advanced, and sustained by powerful American business interests, and how this political ideology continues today to be a major force blocking climate (and other important political) action today.