HOW DO NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS TALK INTERNALLY AMONG THEMSELVES ABOUT THE FUKUSHIMA ENERGY CRISIS?

Haoran Yu

Abstract


My research question is: How do nuclear scientists and engineers talk internally about the Fukushima energy crisis? I examine the role that the Fukushima crisis has on the way energy scientists and engineers talk about the future of energy technologies in the context of climate change and the need for new energy policy. Previous research on the interconnection between science and policy has mainly focused on cases in which scientists and engineers communicate with non-scientists in public venues. This project adopts a unique approach by examining how scientists and engineers manage boundaries between science and policy in internal conversations. The innovation of our proposed project is to discover whether engineers and scientists: 1) blend technical and prudential modes of reasoning; and 2) manage science and policy boundaries within their professional and purportedly “technical” communication.

The significance of this research is that because climate change has become an important topic, it is helpful to see how scientists talk about it as a sociopolitical issue in addition to its technical viability; also, there is little to no research in the internal expert-to-expert rhetoric amongst scientists.

I have analyzed a subset of the data by using NVivo. The methods I used are qualitative and rhetorical. Qualitative research is used to collect the data based on participant observations. Rhetorical methods are used to analyze the discourse of wind and nuclear energy scientists and engineers to examine what sociopolitical aspects are important to them.

Our potential findings are: first, description of the ways scientists are talking about Fukushima is valuable because it has not been researched before and will add to scholarship in rhetoric of science. Second, there is potential to contribute to our understanding of the role that scientists and engineers have in the development of energy policy.


Keywords


Science and Technology Communication; Nuclear Energy; Risk and Crisis Communication

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