How the NPR / Scientific American story on Men and the Environment Exemplifies the Fate of Humanities and Gender Studies in the Public Square
On December 30, 2017, NPR ran a story about a write-up for Scientific American that a marketing professor did on his research into the reasons men are less likely to engage in environmental activity than women. His earth-shattering conclusion was that men think that caring for the environment is not manly. His recommendation was to market caring for the environment as more manly.
I want to suggest that what happened here points to three different issues facing the academy concerning humanities scholarship. First, research outside of the humanities often fails to see the ways that the humanities have contributed to the field of knowledge under discussion and so treats its own insights as original and is impoverished for ignoring the long history and consideration of these questions in the humanities. Second, more specifically, gender studies fails to be treated as a discipline or a form of study that produces original research that people making claims about gender should be aware of. As a result, people make overdetermined and weighted claims without even understanding their significance and implications. Third, when people who are in positions with more access to the public present their work as if it is original when the claims have been made at great length the difficulty at crying foul, at suggesting that this research is derivative and not well-researched, points to the difficult the humanities have in being recognized as a producer of knowledge. Read more