Breaking Through Barriers: Communicating to Diverse Audiences

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Betsy Paille, LSU SRP Community Engagement Coordinator

LSU SRP Community Engagement and Research Translation Core coordinators Betsy Paille and Kelli Palmer attended Breaking through Barriers, a science communication workshop on environmental communication with African Americans, Vietnamese, and Hispanics. These audiences often face disproportionate barriers to accessing and utilizing environmental information due to lower levels of environmental knowledge.  They often worry more about environmental issues, but often act less because of lack of information and resources. The workshop is a part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve Systems Coastal Training Program and was led by Eric Eckl of Water Words That Work at Alabama’s Delta Resource Center in Spanish Fort, Alabama. The workshop focused on developing culturally sensitive and targeted outreach efforts to diverse audiences, ways to improve multicultural outreach, and also different ways to reach out to audiences for whom English is a second language.  For instance, environmental science communicators should use easier English and better photos when communicating to these groups. Eric Eckl, workshop leader stated, “When conveying messages you should begin with behavior, meaning that you should tell your audience what to do, why they should do it, and how to do it.”  Using better photos, including ones of the target audiences can also help; pictures are often more powerful than words. By providing access to information that’s easy to understand and comprehend and even opportunities for participation in matters relating to the environment, science communicators can make sure they’re doing their part to communicate to diverse audiences.

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