Two doctoral students affiliated with the Knight Center have been awarded research fellowships by the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University.
The fellowships, each worth $7,000, will allow Ran Duan and Tsyoshi Oshita to conduct research in the areas of climate, food, energy, and water during the summer of 2016.
Duan will examine how news images of climate change affect people’s perceptions of the issue. The study takes a novel perspective by examining how abstractness of climate change presented in news images could potentially make people perceive the issue as distant and abstract.
Her study proposes three independent experiments, each focusing on a specific climate change theme – nature, industry and human themes. The results could have important implications for policymakers and communicators in terms of developing strategies for promoting climate change-related behaviors.
Oshita’s research focuses on public communication of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is considered as a solution to address climate change, however, nuclear accidents could entail serious and long-lasting damage to the surrounding environment, including water and farm fields.
Public understanding about benefits and risks of the energy use is crucial to deciding the future of the nuclear energy. Oshita’s study will help understand how these benefits and risks have been informed by nuclear companies and how they should be presented to the public.
As part of the fellowship, the students will assist in the organization of a future ESPP colloquium on these issues and where they will present their work.