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Political Science Professor Unites Coastal Community Members and Decision Makers to Discuss Environmental Issues

Posted by: wichmannkm | September 1, 2017 | No Comment |

As Texas recovers from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, Dr. Matthew Nowlin, assistant professor of political science, is working with colleagues to bring together members of the public, natural resource managers, and other decision makers to discuss issues important to South Carolina’s coastal community. Our Coastal Future Forum will focus on environmental health pollution and contaminants of water ways, offshore energy production, coastal biodiversity, climate change and rising sea levels. According to Dr. Nowlin, “The purpose of the forum is to gain insight into how people on the coast think about these issues, how to better communicate about these problems, and how we can move forward in making decisions about these complex issues.”

Our Coastal Future Forum is possible because of a two-year grant that Dr. Nowlin, Dr. Susan Lovelace from the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, and University of Oklahoma Assistant Professor Dr. Justin Reedy received from the National Academies of Sciences Gulf Research Program.  “The overarching question of the project is to determine if a deliberative forum is an effective way of decision making,” noted Nowlin. “For instance, how do we engage all stakeholders to address complex problems like climate change which is greatly politicized and how do we break through the political gridlock that exists?”

Collaboration has been key to success in the project thus far. Dr. Nowlin credits the diverse array of environmental experts that Dr. Lovelace has assembled. Dr. Kendra Stewart and Dr. Bob Kahle at the Joseph P. Riley Center for Livable Communities have also assisted in surveying South Carolina’s eight coastal counties to help recruit for the event. They have also fielded a statewide survey and are currently preparing a national survey addressing coastal issues. One of the main challenges Dr. Nowlin’s team faces is recruiting a significant number of public participants willing to spend a day and a half to participate in the forum but it is a challenge that they are embracing.

Dr. Nowlin joined the Department of Political Science in August of 2013. He currently teaches an undergraduate environmental policy course, a graduate level public policy course, and a sustainable resource management course for the College’s Quality Enhancement Plan. He has also taught courses in research methods, American government, the political science capstone, and first year experience.

Dr. Nowlin earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma in May 2013. He also holds a B.A. in Psychology and a M.A. in Political Science from the University of Central Oklahoma. His research is focused on the policymaking process and linkages between public policy and public opinion. In addition, his research addresses substantive questions in climate change and used nuclear fuel politics and policy. His work has appeared in Policy Studies Journal, Risk Analysis, Social Science Quarterly, and Weather, Climate, and Society. He is currently writing a book that focuses on ways in which the United States can address climate change given how environmental policies and politics have evolved.

under: Events, Scholarships and Awards

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