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K-State Today

October 26, 2016



Colene Lind to discuss communicating Kansas water use goals at Climate Change Group meeting

By John Ruberson

Colene Lind

Colene Lind, assistant professor and graduate program coordinator in the communication studies department, will present "What is common: Language use in public forums on water use in Kansas" at the K-State Climate Change Group meeting at 10 a.m. Oct. 28 in 1063 Durland Hall. All are invited to attend.

Lind's presentation will focus on her research analyzing language used in public forums related to water usage. Inclusivity and consensus-building are critical to environmental decision-making. However, local interests can conflict with long-term goals and others' well-being.

How do members of the public who participate in natural resource decision-making negotiate the common good, local priorities and conflicting interests? Through computer-aided content analysis of speeches made by citizens as they presented their respective groups' water-use goals to the Kansas Water Authority, Lind found that those representing groups who sought education and conservation used words emphasizing diversity. In contrast, speakers representing those who advocated forms of social coercion, including state-funded economic incentives or regulations, spoke with a greater sense of like-mindedness.

Ironically, while groups in northeast and southwest Kansas were opposed in their policy preferences, their leaders adopted the same communal language to advocate for very different kinds of action. Lind will consider how these divergent discourses reflect and reify the priorities of respective regions and make suggestions for conveners per her findings.