Two Knight Center-affiliated doctoral students in the Media and Information program presented their research at Michigan State University’s recent Environmental Science and Policy Program (ESPP) Research Symposium.
And one received a top score, earning researcher Kristen Lynch a $500 prize.
Lynch presented a study on the motivations behind conserving water in water- abundant areas. While there seems to be a significant amount of research on motivates to conserve water in water-stressed areas, there is limited research examining the motives to conserve in water-abundant areas. The primary purpose of this research is to better understand what motivates key decision makers at MSU to conserve water in areas of water-abundance. Her research included interviews with 11 decision makers on campus.
The preliminary results showed that finances, family, childhood experiences and institutional support were key factors in conversing about water in areas of abundance. The results suggest that both individual and institutional level factors influence the perceptions about water conservation among decision makers. This initial research is a part of a continued project that has the potential to examine water use in the context of abundance from an international perspective (e.g. United States and Canada). This study was a collaboration with Knight Center research director Bruno Takahashi, and Adam Zwickle, from ESPP, and is part of the Abundant Resources Research Group (ARRG).
Lynch presented the same poster at the 9th Biennial State of Lake Michigan/15th Annual Great Lakes Beach Association Joint Conference, October 28-30, in Traverse City, Michigan.
Also presenting at the ESPP symposium was Anthony Van Witsen, who is interested in developing a deeper understanding of all the dimensions, cultural as well as functional, of how water is used and what it means to users. Van Witsen presented a poster that proposed a research design for an exploratory content analysis comparing news stories about water in two different media markets, one in the Great Lakes area with abundant local water sources and one representing the southwest, which depends heavily on external water sources. The study will use media framing theory to analyze how water is treated both as an environmental issue and as a non-environmental topic. This is a first step toward understanding water as a social fact (or facts) in peoples’ lives, which is necessary for developing the long term change in public use of water necessary to encourage conservation.