Danielle Lawson

Graduate Student | Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management | NC State University

2018-19 Global Change Fellow

Where are they now?

Danielle is an Assistant Professor at Penn State University with a joint appointment in Recreation, Park, & Tourism Management as well as Science Education.

Statement of purpose:

I am a final year Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management Ph.D. student working under the direction of Dr. Kathryn Stevenson and Dr. Nils Peterson. Although numerous approaches to effective climate change mitigation exists, the success of these approaches hinges on widespread societal support. While climate change communication techniques have attempted to increase support, the general population’s political ideologies and worldviews sway opinions, rendering many of these methods effective only in specific situations. I hope to find and test novel communication pathways and apply these techniques to the climate communication realm.

Description of research:

My PhD research focuses on determining how we can leverage the unique climate change views of younger generations to increase the climate literacy of older generations, through a phenomenon called intergenerational learning. Intergenerational learning, or the movement of attitudes, knowledge, and/or behaviors, between two generations is not a new concept. Traditional research tends to emphasize the “top-down” direction, focusing on how older generations influence younger generations, but newer research examines the opposite direction. Little to no research exists on how intergenerational learning plays a role in climate change perceptions. As such, I hope to fill this gap by working with coastal North Carolina middle school science teachers, and through the teachers, coastal NC students and their parents/guardians. The teachers will introduce a climate change curriculum that has been designed to facilitate intergenerational learning between students and their parents in hopes of increasing the older generation’s climate literacy through first increasing the younger generation’s climate literacy.  More broadly, my research interests include working with stakeholders and community members to find new ways to communicate scientific research. My passion lies beyond doing “research for the sake of research,” and instead co-create research that is useful for members of the general public. Combining my background in natural science with my skills in social science, I hope to improve science communication to help achieve conservation-minded goals.

This research will contribute to Science Theme #5: Coastal and Nearshore Environments and aligns with DOI Priority 3. Restoring trust with local communities.