Normalizing Nature: Construction and Defense of Authorized Rhetoric in Environmental Policy Debates

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2014-01-01
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Ludden, Jason
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Iowa State University Summer Symposium on Science Communication
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The Science Communication Project @ISU was founded in 2010 with the goal of enhancing collaborative research on, education for, and the practice of public science communication, broadly conceived. Our biennial symposia- which include public presentations of multidisciplinary research and interactive workshops- bring together a network of scholars who share interests in public engagement of science, environmental communication, natural resource management, and agriscience. Conference proceedings showcase research, evaluations, and critiques of science communication-related practices and phenomena.

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Scientific communication, as argued by Bruno Latour, not only asserts ‘facts’ but also defends progressive ideology by reinforcing a given epistemology. Under this critique, the scientist becomes not a finder of facts but a dictator of normative behavior in policy communication. My paper examines the way scientists create and communicate their findings with an emphasis on how normative scientific behavior gives and takes agency from natural, non-conscious entities and phenomenon in order to redistribute and reify power structures. To show this, I examine the debate over the United States Forest Service’s management plan after Oregon’s 2002 Biscuit Fire.

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