How Citizens Learn and Use Scientific and Technical Information in Environmental Decision Making

  • Hartley T
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Abstract

There is concern that laypersons participating in environ- mental or natural resource decision making cannot or do not engage the scientific and technical information sufficiently to integrate that information into the decisions and reach a high- quality, science-based decision. This study examined how thir- teen citizens participating in two Superfund clean-up decisions learned and used complex information. Citizens learned and engaged in discussion about scientific and technical issues, managed their learning and the use of information, and directed public decisions about risk and clean-up technology. Citizens needed access to multiple methods and techniques to learn, time and commitment to invest, and control over their learning. Multiple learning opportunities supplied a wide range of edu- cational approaches conducive to the diverse learning styles and background knowledge of the citizens. Ramifications are dis- cussed for public education and communication professionals, particularly the Technical Outreach Services for Communities (TOSC) and Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities (TAB) programs.

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  • TW Hartley

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