Let's Talk: A conversation on how we communicate in Science
AEG RICHARD H. JAHNS DISTINGUISHED LECTURER IN APPLIED GEOLOGY
Ms. Deborah Green (Geologist Writer)
Like members of any group with a common passion, geologists love to talk with each other about our work. That communication is important – it’s how we share the results of our research and experience, and build our knowledge base as individuals and as a profession. It’s also well within our comfort zone.
There’s been a troubling shift in recent years in how scientific information is received outside of our own community, by the public and policy makers. As scientists, we must assume responsibility for at least part of the negative perceptions; we’ve separated ourselves, and in some cases talked down to our audiences, to the extent that we’ve failed to convey the importance of environmental and engineering geology. Speaking with those who don’t know or understand our geologic “language” isn’t necessarily comfortable, and doing it well certainly isn’t easy. But we need to embrace that pursuit, communicating science well, as much as we embrace the work itself. Advocating effectively for our work will make it possible to do more of the science we so value, and for society to realize that value. In this presentation, we’ll talk about the challenges of conversing with non-scientists about science, and why we must face those challenges head on.
About the speaker
Ms. Green has worked as an environmental and engineering geologist for 34 years in consulting and industry. For more than 20 of those years she’s been self-employed. Ms. Green discovered her love for geology as a kid when her earth science teacher father informally taught her all sorts of things about rocks on their summer camping adventures. She earned a B.S. in geology from the University of Rochester and an M.S. in engineering geology from Texas A&M University.
These days, Ms. Green spends most of her work time writing. She recently completed her first novel, which is loosely based on a period in her late husband’s life when he was the Chief Foundation Geologist for a large dam in East Central Turkey from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. On her web site, www.geologistwriter.com, you can read essays in which Ms. Green strives to understand and convey the wonder of the landscape and the complexity of earth processes, while also exploring the terrain of our lives.