Wednesday, April 16, 2008

167. First Environmental Media Abstract to be Submitted to the AAAS Pacific Division Conference in Hawaii, June 2008

“The Elephant and the Oak Tree”: an Environmental Media Campaign

This paper will explore how principles of public communication campaign design and evaluation can be applied to environmental information disseminated to first- and second-year college students within the Santa Barbara region who are in transition to young adulthood within higher education learning settings. “Sense-making” methodologies for “communicating communicatively” are key features of the campaign. Rather than a top-down approach, students develop critical thinking skills through discussion- and collaboration-based interactions with various local scientists and community stakeholders. One campaign element is that of “The Elephant and the Oak Tree,” a short narrative that addresses the dichotomy between knowledge mediated through educational institutions and the mass media versus knowledge acquired through everyday life experiences. A desired outcome is to establish a protocol for individual inquiry and self-reflection on environmental and life issues. Reminding students of their innate, childlike curiosity and questioning in relations to science and the environment may be viewed as the first step in assimilating information and deriving meaning in their lives. Then students are potentially one step closer to decision-making in concern of taking responsibility for helping to create a sustainable way of life for themselves, their community, and beyond.

I have been working with Dr. Carl Maida and Dr. Robert Chianese the last couple of months. My presentation would most likely be under the "New Sciences/Humanities Convergences" panel. Both professors have been very encouraging and patient with me.

I remember the first time I met Dr. Chianese, he told me that I was in the process of "epistemologizing." No shxt. Add THAT to my resume. I know how to epistemologize, as if that were a meaningful function in society. At the time I was in a state of shock. I am 26. The first time I conciously heard that word "epistemology" was intro to philosophy at Riverside Community College, age 17. I cringed at that word. I thought Plato, Descartes, and nearly every philosopher I learned about were all on dope. They probably were. And now I join the group? I still don't even know what epistemology means! But I'm doing it. Hmmm. Dr. Chianese also said I am one of those people who are kindasorta reinventing the wheel, kindasorta like Gregory Bateson. I am a Batestonian and I don't even know it. Bateson wrote a book called An Ecology of the Mind, which I read fragments and I thought the guy thinks in zigzags. Not very linear, nor non-linear as a matter of fact. A bit chaotic for me. Bateson's wife is Margaret Mead. Go figure.

Did I mention? Dr. Robert Chianese is an English professor at Cal State Northridge, but he commutes all the way from Ventura. Good thing. I would shoot myself within a week if I lived in Los Angeles again. I thought at first, how can an English professor teaching in an urban-located university actually bother to teach about environmental issues and non-human-dominated landscapes? As soon as I found out he lived in Ventura, then I understood. Dr. Chianese feels a bit isolated in his pursuits because most English professors focus on the usual issues of race, gender, class. He clamored on how university institutions frame what the agenda of a department should be. "INSTITUTIONAL FRAMING" I call it. I was shocked he stated this. I only thought this was an issue in the science arena... but an ENGLISH department as well?

Dr. Carl Maida is an anthropologist through the School of Dentistry at UCLA. He works with anthropological issues related to natural disasters--e.g. flooding, fire, earthquakes, the usual. This is how he got involved in issues of sustainability. At first I was worried that he taught through dentistry because my teeth and my mouth is a little microcosmos environment of un-natural disaster of human addictive consumption of werther's original candy. More later. Dr. Maida also teaches courses at Cal State Northridge. He was very helpful with better understanding public communication campaigns. He recommended Dr. Ronald Rice's (and Atkins) public communication campaigns book, which ironically Dr. Rice gave me a complimentary newer edition of the book on the very same day. I visited Dr. Maida at UCLA, and it was the first time I had been on campus for a few years. I awkwardly passed by my old home of the Botany Building, by Mildred Mathias. I vividly remembering the fumes from construction work pouring out of the vents in my basement office, giving me head aches every day. Spring of 2004 that was. Dr. Maida's office was on the sixth floor of a maze of interconnected, yet disparate buildings. There's a building attendant downstairs who has to help everyone get their way around. I would say it's the perfect suite of buildings to shoot a Matrix movie. All these corridors and mysterious doors, and you can easily get lost, as if you got list in a maze of your mind.


Oscar said...

Wow this is an amazing article. I was up very late and I remembered you had sent me a link to your blog site. I figured I would read something online while working on my own blog site. This article caught my eye for some reason. I read the first couple of sentences and I was hooked.

I looked up the word "Epistemology" in the dictionary and found its meaning quite interesting. According to the Oxford dictionary, epistemology is the theory of knowledge, esp. with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. The way I understand to be is essentially question reality.

Victoria "Stokastika" said...

Thanks Oscar! You hit the bullseye! Did you see the other blog involving eco-pistemology? It's a better variation of the word.... Better word all together!