Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM


RUBIN, Jeffrey, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, 11945 SW 70th Ave, Tigard, OR 97223,

Communities, corporations, and every level of government rely on geoscience information but commonly are unaware of the degree of reliance, the nature (and even existence) of the information, or the decisions that it can inform. Even a “single topic” such as natural hazards covers a broad range of scientific disciplines and subdisciplines as well as myriad policy decisions. Policymakers – like their constituents – are faced with multiple competing priorities, most of which are far more available than natural hazards and geologic processes. Geoscientists should be best suited to contribute critical information for policy development and crisis management, but they must earn and maintain their audiences’ trust in order to do so. Land-use, code-adoption, and infrastructure design and maintenance require technical expertise, but effectively providing that information to policymakers and the general public demands awareness of context and potential target audiences, the ability to translate technical information for a largely non-technical audience, and an appreciation of risk-communication concepts, specifically:
  • Distinguishing between controversy or “consensus” in the scientific vs. the social/political arena, recognizing that the context in one domain may have no bearing on the other, and being able to adapt to that reality;
  • Recognizing that simply providing objective information is not only insufficient, but that the presenter’s objectivity itself may be questioned. Source credibility is determined by a combination of audience, the presenter’s organization, and the individual presenter – a subjective process;
  • Identifying the intended audience(s), with the potential trap of perceiving a cohesive “community” where none exists. Community assessment includes not only audience characterization, but identifying the most effective means of spreading a message. This includes recognizing what makes an issue “important” and identifying and reaching key members who can influence message transmission and acceptance;
  • Distinguishing between actual and perceived importance (e.g., understanding the difference between supporting an underlying message of “don’t worry,” and actually saying it);
  • Being able to explain uncertainty, as well as understanding how it can enhance credibility.
  • Rubin-GSA-T139-PublicComm_102913.pdf (141.2 kB)
  • PIOrefs.pdf (61.9 kB)
  • SOCO_worksheet.pdf (6.3 kB)