Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

“Climate Change as a Digital Controversy” A public lecture by Dr. Michael Christensen

Friday, September 29, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm
Location: Bruce Brown 337
Event Type: Lecture

Dr. Michael Christensen, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at St. Mary's University, will give a public lecture as part of the Department of Sociology Speakers Series. All are welcome to attend.

Abstract. Long before “post-truth” became the 2016 word of the year for Oxford Dictionaries, scholars and environmental activists sounding the alarm on global warming were facing political opposition that aimed to delegitimize the scientists, institutions and even the evidence suggesting that climate change is a problem. As this debate has moved online it has raised important questions about the value of scientific knowledge when it must compete with “alternative facts” in a sea of informational noise. This presentation therefore considers (1) whether expert knowledge based on specialized and therefore somewhat inaccessible scientific processes can compete on a digital terrain that has no shortage of unfounded assertions of alternative knowledge, and (2) whether there are forms of digital literacy or digital citizenship that can support scientific enterprises without relying on increasingly tenuous conceptions of formal expertise.

Michael Christensen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at St. Mary's University. He has held previous positions as a Postdoctoral Fellow at York University’s Global Digital Citizenship Lab (GDCL) and a research fellowship with the Democratic Resource Center at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, DC. Christensen completed his Ph.D. in the Graduate Program in Sociology at York University in 2014, with a dissertation that examined international democracy promotion within governmental and non-governmental organizations in the US and Canada. He has published articles in journals such as the Journal of Classical Sociology, the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and International Political Sociology. His academic interests are in the fields of democracy and human rights, international aid organizations, and digital media, while his research at the GDCL focuses on emerging forms of expertise and democratic debate mediated through digital technologies.

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