Environments, Risks, and Digital Media
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Recent events--the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the subsequent nuclear failures--illustrate how environments and human action entangle in a complex and risky formation. The overarching problem of global climate change, operating on a very different time scale, challenges society's ability to comprehend and address the risks emerging from its own activity. These and other examples raise a multitude of questions regarding the relationships among environments, risks, and digital media. How do public discourses constitute risks, and how might digital media change those constitutive processes? How do publics, governments, and communities respond to risks, and how do digital media enable and constrain those responses?
This two-day research symposium will advance research and debate on a timely but underdeveloped problematic: the role of digital media in constituting, discursively constructing, managing, governing, communicating, and responding to risks. As conceptualized by sociologist Ulrich Beck, contemporary "risk society" is constituted by "modernization risks" that emerge as consequences of technological development and are managed increasingly through technological means. In this context, digital media are points of articulation or sites of emergence for discursively constituted risks. Some of these risks, such as threats to individual privacy in an era of increased surveillance, acts of terrorism facilitated by communication tools, and electronic bullying and harassment, are generally viewed as direct consequences of new media technologies. In these cases new media are seen both as sources of problems and as potential sources of solutions. In other cases, such as well-known environmental, health, and safety risks, new media provide potential tools for evaluation, democratic deliberation, and public awareness and response.
The CRDM Research Symposium convenes presenters and participants from a wide range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches spanning rhetorical, critical/cultural, and social science approaches to communication. We invite participation from CRDM faculty and graduate students; from other departments and programs across NC State University; and from corporate, governmental, and academic institutions throughout the Research Triangle (e.g., the US Environmental Protection Agency, pharmaceutical companies, digital media and information management companies, and Triangle universities) and at the national and international levels.
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last updated 26.3.2011