Social Science and Geoscience Research
Over the last two decades researchers have presented evidence indicating that concerns raised by opponents to geoscience or infrastructure projects are, in fact, very real (opposition is not simply the result of NIMBYism - ‘not in my back yard’). However, with a clear understanding of the root of the concerns, in many cases these can be addressed with coherent and considered strategies.

To investigate this further, in late 2015 the GSI commissioned a systematic review of the public perception of geoscience in Ireland. The aim was to better understand how the public perceive geoscience activities (e.g. extractive industries) and how industry, and government to an extent, can gain social acceptance for their activities from the relevant stakeholders.

The results of this study will inform research undertaken by the GSI and as part of the iCRAG Public Perception and Understanding Platform (http://www.icrag-centre.org/ ). The ultimate aim of the research is to understand communities’ attitudes to exploitation of natural resources, risk perception, developing methods for how best to accurately communicate risk and develop/adapt existing strategies to include participants in a meaningful way (i.e. to public, government, policy makers, industry etc.). The key is not simply to tell the public what researchers think they need to know, but for geoscience researchers and industry to fully understand public attitudes and therefore inform future work and activities.

The proposed work will help shape public and industry policy by including a wide range of actors and stakeholders. It is foreseen that the research would be undertaken by social scientists (e.g. experts in social psychology, socio-economics, public policy/governance, education etc.) in collaboration with geoscientists and using geoscience projects in Ireland as case studies.

The report below summarises the current state of the art with regard to this topic in Ireland. If you are interested in conducting research in this area, please contact Dr Aoife Braiden, GSI Research Manager, for more information (aoife.braiden@gsi.ie)