Physics Neff Lecture on Sept. 12 highlights climate change understanding

Technological and scientific issues significantly impact our lives, yet not many of us have the experience or expertise needed to properly appreciate their consequences, partially because our K-12 and college STEM education system is not as effective as it should be. Human-caused climate change is a pressing example of such an issue.

University of California-Berkeley professor Michael Ranney and his colleagues have repeatedly shown that conservatives and liberals alike increase their acceptance that climate change is occurring and human-caused after viewing brief, well-crafted bits of scientific information. The physics department has invited Ranney to present a general public lecture at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union. The Neff Lecture will be at a nontechnical level and all are invited to attend.

Ranney will discuss how climate change acceptance is increased through mini-interventions using videos, compelling statistics, temperature graphs, and mechanistic explanatory texts. His website,, directly enhances public climate change cognition and provides many of the interventions that will be discussed.

Joining UC-Berkeley after a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton’s Cognitive Science Laboratory, Ranney received his Bachelor of Arts at University of Colorado, Boulder in psychology and molecular, cellular and developmental biology, and his Master of Science and doctorate in experimental cognitive psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Ranney’s research explores people’s understanding of technological and scientific issues and seeks to foster the public’s incorporation of challenging quantitative information, lately focusing on global climate change. His group designs curricula, methods and software to improve rational thinking and offers simple public policy-relevant representations.

He is currently head of the Reasoning Research Group at UC-Berkeley and is past chair of SESAME, the Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education. He also is a member of many faculties, including education, psychology, SESAME, cognitive science and the Institute of Personality and Social Research.

Ranney was a Spencer fellow of the National Academy of Education, is a fellow of the Psychonomic Society and was a University of California Regents' junior faculty fellow.

Light refreshments will be served before the lecture in the lobby outside of Forum Hall.

This lecture series is supported by an endowment from James R. Neff in honor of his parents, Everett and Florine Neff.

Courtesy of Communications & Marketing