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Public Perception of Geoscience

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, since late 2015 Geological Survey Ireland have developed a cluster projects in relation to public perception of geoscience. The aim is 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.

Results of this research will inform research undertaken by the GSI, our research partners and as part of the iCRAG Public Perception and Understanding Platform. 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 work is helping to 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.

In 2015 Geological Survey Ireland commissioned a report on the Public Perception of Geoscience in Ireland which is now available for download.

If you are interested in conducting research in this area, please contact Dr Aoife Braiden, GSI Research Manager, for more information.