The Roundup -

Special Summer Brownbagger On Environmental Issues And Community Impacts


Too often conflict can occur on environmental issues primarily because proposed solutions not only impact the biology and ecology of an area but also the economic and social health of surrounding communities. Scientists and technical experts need to account for how their attempts to manage environmental threats affect all of these, according to Political Scientist Megan Ruxton.

Ruxton will be presenting a special summer Brownbagger on this topic at the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Lab in Sidney this Friday, June 8, from noon to 1 pm in the lab’s Tech Transfer Room. Her talk is entitled “This Budworm’s for You: Trust and Engagement in New Brunswick, Canada” and addresses this conflict from a social science perspective.

“This presentation focuses on New Brunswick, Canada, and the sociopolitical element of a scientific response to the spruce budworm outbreak in the forests of eastern Canada,” Ruxton notes.” Due to a contentious history between government scientists, forest industry representatives, and the public, the need arose for an assessment of public opinion and how this related to communications between forestry experts and members of the community.”

Using social science research tools, including a public opinion survey and in-depth expert interviews, Ruxton’s subsequent research into the matter provided an overview of the importance of scientists in engaging the public. “By leveraging their role as trusted experts, scientists can utilize public good will to accomplish scientific and management goals, and serve as an important conduit to incorporate public values into natural resource management” she said.

Ruxton is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Assistant Director of the Center for Social and Behavioral Research at the University of Northern Iowa. She received her PhD in Political Science in 2017 from Colorado State University. Her published research draws on political behavior and public policy and administration with a particular emphasis on the role of public engagement and science in policy decision-making and implementation, particularly regarding environmental and sustainability issues.

Please join us this Friday for this very informative presentation. Bring your lunch. We’ll provide dessert. The lab is located at 1500 N. Central Avenue.

For questions or more information, contact Beth Redlin at 406-433-9427 or [email protected]


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