Bridging Cultures and Disciplines for Better Communications

Climate change communication researchers and representatives of diverse climate science information media convene in Beijing under auspices of leading Yale and Renmin University programs.


A leading U.S.-based climate change communication research initiative and a new counterpart in Beijing have launched a collaboration intended to improve the research and practice of climate change communication across cultures and professional disciplines.

Yale University’s Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, directed by Yale Forum Publisher Anthony Leiserowitz, Ph.D., and Renmin University’s China Center for Climate Change Communication (China 4C) brought respected climate communication researchers and professionals together October 11-13 in Beijing. One objective, in the words of China 4C Director Baowei Zheng was to: “promote public participation in addressing climate change and make a contribution to the low-carbon development of the world.”

University of Colorado’s Max Boykoff was among a number of U.S. experts addressing the Yale/Renmin climate change communications conference in Beijing.

In working with both climate communication researchers and practitioners, Zheng said, the groups will strive to “seek consensus and coordinated action, to jointly promote the research and practice of climate change communication to a higher level, resulting in greater academic and social influence.”

Yale’s Leiserowitz said the Beijing meeting was intended to “catalyze the international community” of scholars and practitioners in a field increasingly viewed by governments, academics, business and citizen interests as being of “vital importance” in the effort to address climate change challenges and opportunities. He said coordinated research activities and a sharing of communication experiences and “lessons learned” were among the activities expected to result from the initial meeting, with a follow-up meeting likely in the U.S. at some point over the next year or so.

In addition to bridging the often-divergent agendas of the two nations widely considered to be the most critical to addressing climate challenges, the U.S. and Chinese initiatives are also trying to bridge the cultural differences often apparent between and among their own climate communication researchers and practitioners, including but going well beyond mainstream news organizations. Participants expressed an interest in addressing not only the two nations’ domestic audiences but also targeted interests, such as policy makers, other academics, civic and business professionals, and nongovernmental organizations beyond their own borders.

Professionals attending the October meeting, along with those from the U.S. and China, included representatives from Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, India, Taiwan, Russia, and Hong Kong, among others.

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