Martin hopes to include local scientists and community members in as much of the research process as possible, and he hopes that by incorporating an environmental civics component, the findings of the program’s research can be applied to assist local communities in Greenland and Florida.
“Those academics who really were able to change Florida or change the world for the better were people who were able to balance their research and speak truth to the public and to people in power."
Cynthia Barnett, environmental fellow and lecturer in residence with the Bob Graham Center for Public Service and College of Journalism and Communications, will help advise the fellows on public engagement, communication skills and civic leadership.
“Normally this would never happen at the beginning of a project,” Barnett said. “I thought it was neat that they were turning that around and before they figured out their science, they were beginning to ask: How can we do a better job of articulating the importance of this work to the public?”
Cynthia Barnett, environmental fellow and lecturer in residence with the Bob Graham Center for Public Service and College of Journalism and Communications
Barnett has been inspired by researchers who have championed—and helped the public understand—the species and environments they studied. She named the late sea turtle scientist and UF professor Archie Carr and former dean of the UF Levin School of Law Frank Maloney, who helped write Florida’s model water law, as prime examples.
“Those academics who really were able to change Florida or change the world for the better were people who were able to balance their research and speak truth to the public and to people in power,” she said.
By incorporating discussions of environmental civics into the program from the very beginning, the idea is that students and faculty may consider the sociological dynamics of impacted communities as they decide upon their research questions for the program.
And Barnett believes the impact may be beneficial: “If the conversation about environmental civics is influencing the scientific questions, I think that's okay because it is inspiring them to think more about the relevance to the local community in Greenland and to what decision makers might need to know about changing global systems.”
Jon Martin agrees, saying the inclusion of environmental civics may lead to questions that researchers would not have previously been able to answer, or even ask.