Prof. Andrew Hoffman is the Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. He will be giving a presentation entitled “A Great Divide:  The Cultural Schism Over Climate Change, the inaugural lecture of UC Merced’s new Center for Climate Communication (CCC). CIS faculty member Dr. Teenie Matlock is director of the CCC and will be hosting Hoffman’s visit. Professor Hoffman’s research uses a sociological perspective to understand the cultural and institutional aspects of environmental issues for organizations. His talk will cover the significant issue of the public debate around climate change:

The social debate around climate change is no longer about carbon dioxide and climate models. It is about values, culture, worldviews and ideology. As physical scientists explore the mechanics and implications of anthropogenic climate change, social scientists explore the cultural reasons why people support or reject their scientific conclusions. What we find is that scientists do not hold the definitive final word in the public debate on this issue. Instead, the public develops positions that are consistent with the values held by others within the referent groups of which they are part. In this context, efforts to present ever increasing amounts of data, without attending to the deeper values that are threatened by the conclusions they lead to, will only yield greater resistance and make a social consensus even more elusive.

Dr. Hoffman frequently provides international presentations on these topics, including one that can be seen here:


The CCC is a new venture that seeks to intersect cognitive science with climate science. It is affiliated with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute and is devoted to researching and disseminating information ways to effectively communicate climate information. Scientists and scholars affiliated with this research group have expertise in engineering, natural sciences, and the cognitive sciences. In the fall semester, CCC will host another public presentation by UC Berkeley cognitive scientist Michael Ranney.

Click here to visit CCC’s website.