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Communicative Circuitry of the Green Shift (COGS)

Alternative title: Det grønne skiftets kommunikasjonskretsløp (COGS)

Awarded: NOK 2.7 mill.

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Project Period:

2018 - 2023


This project starts from the notion that how science communication happens is at least as important as what is being communicated. The project wil lhence study how science communication practices create -- or undermine -- social relations, rather than look exclusively at the messages they create. The project is a holistic study of the entire science communication process, which originally would study the communication activities of three Norwegian research projects, each focusing on a different aspect of the so-called "green shift". Over time, the project has been supplemented by a case study of how science communication work is organized at a Norwegian university. Our research question is: What aspects of science communication practices either promote or hamper the development of productive relations -- of trust, dialogue and engagement -- between scientists/researchers, on the one hand, and communication workers, partners, users, and audiences, on the other? The phrase "productive relations" refers here not to any objective relation between intended and received messages; we do not aim to document a public deficit or a lack of literacy. Rather, this phrase refers to an ideal situation where research has value for all the various actors involved, to the purposes they have in their respective spheres, not to mention the value research can have for us all, as a collective citizenry. The project will use "rhetorical field studies," an emerging method inspired by ethnography, which focuses on the flows of communication between and across various actors, institutions, formats/media, and situations. The central interest of this approach is how information travels across the various points in the "communications Circuit," how it is appropriated by, and put to use -- or not -- at each such point. This approach entails a study of the many actors, texts, and practices involved in the planning, production, and distribution of science communication, as well as in the reception and response of the same.


This project starts from the notion that the situation of science in society has become increasingly complex, and that this new complexity represents a challenge to the ambition of effective science communication. To grapple with this situation will require an understanding not just of the forms and platforms of various science communication efforts, but ? as importantly ? of the infrastructures and institutional practices that create and keep in place the preconditions of science communication. To respond to this call, the COGS project studies the entire research and science communication process of three Norwegian research projects, which all deal with separate aspects of the so-called "green shift": (A) household energy choices; (B) governance strategies; and (C) engaging citizens in urban agriculture. With methodology from rhetorical fieldwork and reception studies, this project places relations between the various actors in the science communication circuit at the centre, with its focus on the institutional practices and disciplinary/sectorial traditions that maintain those relations. The project proceeds by three research tasks: The first revolves around the institutional practices of managers, researchers, and communicators at the institutions hosting the above-mentioned projects; the second focuses on the research teams' exchanges and cooperation with their partners and user groups; and the third deals with the reception in various groups representing the general public. Throughout, the project's research is guided by the question of which science communication practices allow and promote - or reversely, suppress and hamper - productive relations between the various actors involved in the science communication process. The project itself has an applied ambition, and aims, with a fourth research task of synthesis, application and outreach, to give insights back to Norwegian science communication practitioners.

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