Activism, Science and the Infinite Game: Exploring the relationship between science and environmental activism
According to James Carse, humanity plays two types of games. We play games that are finite and games that are infinite. As human activity alters the biosphere, ecosystems are collapsing, biodiversity is declining, and the climate is changing. In the face of these challenges, the games of scientists, science communicators and environmental activists often align or intersect. This thesis explores the relationship between science and environmental activism, and how they affect one another’s finite and infinite games. The discussion covers how they positively affect one another’s games and how they negatively affect one another’s games, with case studies to illustrate each relationship. I found that science can be a tool in activists’ games to reform policy, challenge industries, and empower communities at the forefront of environmental conflicts. Activism can motivate scientific investigations, strategically further the public and political reach of research, and contribute to the epistemic integrity of the sciences. Activism can negatively affect science by obscuring scientific findings, jeopardising the credibility of scientific efforts, and perpetuating a combative approach to environmental challenges. Furthermore, science can negatively affect activism by diverting the public imagination from relationships that enable environmental injustice, by perpetuating epistemic injustice, and undermining emotions in environmental conflicts. This exploration sheds light on how the games of activists and scientists can further the infinite game for environmental justice, but also on the ways their games reinforce socio-political systems that underpin environmental injustices.
Advisor: Medvecky, Fabien
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: activism; political activism; science communication; environmental activism; infinite game; climate change; climate communication; Aotearoa; New Zealand; environmental communication; epistemic justice; epistemic injustice; civil disobedience
Research Type: Thesis