Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Professor of Communication, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, where he also serves as an affiliate researcher at the Global Resilience Institute. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Environmental Communication; a Senior Editor at ORE Climate Science; and a consulting communication researcher to the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion.
Nisbet studies the relevance of communication, advocacy, and philanthropy to political debates over complex social problems such as climate change and political polarization. He is the author or co-author of more than 75 peer-reviewed studies, scholarly book chapters, and reports including the recent American Association for Advancement of Science report on Scientists in Civic Life: Facilitating Dialogue-Based Communication and the 2017 U.S. National Academies consensus study on Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda.
With his co-author Declan Fahy, he is currently writing a book with Harvard University Press that examines the influence of a special generation of public intellectuals who have helped define the major scientific and social issues of our time. By evaluating the careers of writers like Bill McKibben, Michael Pollan, Malcolm Gladwell, and Naomi Klein, the book explores the power of ideas and narratives to influence public opinion, inspire social movements, and alter political decisions.
In recently funded projects, Nisbet analyzed the role of strategic philanthropy in supporting actions to address climate change; evaluated sources of financial support for non-profit journalism; and is currently identifying best practices in journalistic coverage of climate change resilience.
Among awards and recognition, he has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. Nisbet serves on the editorial boards for Public Understanding of Science and the International Journal of Press/Politics, and on the Board of Directors for the International Environmental Communication Association. He is an affiliated researcher with the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine and the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.
The editors at the journal Nature have recommended Nisbet’s research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism.” According to Reuters Web of Knowledge, Nisbet’s research has been cited in the peer-reviewed literature nearly 3,000 times, and according to Google Scholar more than 9,000 times. In terms of scholarly impact, these metrics rank him among the most influential communication researchers of his generation.
Nisbet’s research has been supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Barr Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, John Templeton Foundation, Rita Allen Foundation, Bernard and Ann Spitzer Trust, and Nathan Cummings Foundation. His consulting experience includes analysis on behalf of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Centers for Disease Control, ecoAmerica, Pfizer Inc, and L’Oreal Paris. As an invited speaker, he has given lectures on more than four dozen university and college campuses worldwide and at many other scholarly and professional meetings.
He writes regularly at Wealth of Ideas, authoring essays on science, society, and politics; along with reflections on Western literature, Eastern philosophy, and a more contemplative life. At Northeastern, he teaches courses in political communication and advocacy. Nisbet holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Communication from Cornell University and a BA in Government from Dartmouth College.