Smith Fellows
Smith Fellow


Diverse stakeholders must cooperate to protect common pool resources such as public lands, watersheds, and global climate, yet rising political polarization and social division present major obstacles to environmental action. To solve these urgent problems, conservation advocates must overcome increasing social division and political polarization, yet prominent communication strategies have often back-fired and encouraged more entrenched views. However, some conservation initiatives—such as maintaining sustainable fisheries and protecting public lands—have bipartisan support in the United States and many other countries. In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and partners in science communication, conservation advocacy, and social media, my project will 1) facilitate the recruitment and retention of diverse and under-served environmental constituencies and 2) provide tools for community leaders and advocates to rapidly measure public concerns for the environment and support for sustainability initiatives. To achieve these aims, I will identify different conservation constituencies—that is, individuals who share support for different dimensions of the environment—using social media and other large-scale socioeconomic data. I will also quantify and describe how different groups frame their support of distinct issues and use these findings to improve conservation practice to build a more representative environmental coalition.