ITHACA, NY—How knowledge about climate change and sustainability is shared within a community will be the focus of a study conducted by an Ithaca College researcher under the auspices of a Fulbright-National Science Foundation Arctic Research Grant. Scott Erickson, professor of marketing/law in the Ithaca College School of Business, will spend September of 2016 and March–June of 2017 working with the University of Akureyri, located in northern Iceland just outside the Arctic Circle.
Erickson will examine how residents of the eco-savvy city of Akureyri learn about sustainability issues — with whom they interact, from whom they accept knowledge and to whom they share this knowledge — beyond more formal communications from government agencies and sustainability organizations.
He will also examine social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, for comparable information on the digital network structure of the community. This network will then be compared with the more face-to-face social network.
Erickson notes that the climate change debate has become increasingly contentious and politicized, with entrenched opinions at both extremes of the conversation.
“One of the tasks of any sustainability initiative is to target and persuade the vast middle of the population,” says Erickson. “In order to do so, it helps to understand how that middle majority receives and processes knowledge and information. With that understanding in hand, social marketing initiatives to encourage sustainable behavior can be improved.”
The Fulbright-NSF grants were created as a complement to the Fulbright Arctic Initiative, whose purpose is to address public-policy research questions relevant to the shared challenges of Arctic nations. At the conclusion of their projects, the scholars will disseminate policy-relevant recommendations and share the progress they have made and challenges they have faced in moving their recommendations from theory to practice.
This is the second Fulbright award for Erickson, who in 2010–11 was a visiting research chair in the Monieson Centre for the Study of Management of Knowledge-Based Enterprises at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, and is designed to build relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries that are needed to solve global challenges.
For more information, visit eca.state.gov/fulbright.