Matthew Robert Auer

Bates College

Bates College
2 Andrews Road
Lewiston, ME
04240 |  Visit Personal Website

Search Google Scholar
Search for Google Scholar Profile

Dr. Auer's current research considers the role of social media in political opinion formation. A broad survey of the subject is considered at: Auer, Matthew R. 2011. "The Policy Sciences of Social Media," Policy Studies Journal 39 (4): 709–736. An on-going project considers perceptions of climate change in China measured as revealed in thousands of posts on microblogging platforms. See: Auer, M., Zhang, Y, and Lee, P. 2014. "The Potential of Microblogs for the Study of Public Perceptions of Climate Change," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 5(3):291-296.

Auer, Matthew R. (Forthcoming 2011). “The Policy Sciences of Social Media.” Policy Studies Journal, 39.
Abstract: Twitter, Facebook and other social media are increasingly touted as platforms not merely for networks of friends and for private diversion, but as vehicles that allow ordinary people to enter and influence the many arenas of public life. On the surface, the disparate and shapeless population of i-reporters, policy tweeters, and anonymous news website commentators would appear to challenge the comparatively well-defined cast of professional diplomats, journalists, and propagandists that Harold D. Lasswell identified as policy-oriented communicators. However, to illuminate the roles and impacts of social media in politics and policymaking, insights from Lasswell's science of communication must be embedded in Lasswell's broader lessons on value assets and outcomes. A closer look at the so-called democratizing functions of social media in politics reveals the influence of powerful intermediaries who filter and shape electronic communications. Lasswell's insights on the likelihood of increased collaboration among political elites and skilled, modernizing intellectuals anticipates contemporary instances of state actors who recruit skilled creators and users of social media collaborations that may or ma not advance experiments in democracy. Lasswell's decision process concept is deployed to discover social medias strengths and weaknesses for the practicing policy scientist.
Auer, Matthew R. (2010). “Communication and Competition in Environmental Studies.” Policy Sciences, 43(4): 365-390.
Abstract: Newsweek's 2009 article header, "Green degrees in bloom" (Kliff 2009) seems apt considering that there are hundreds of American institutions of higher learning offering bachelors- and graduate-level degrees and majors in interdisciplinary environmental fields. In fact, there is debate whether undergraduate and graduate student interest is growing or leveling-off (National Wildlife Federation 2008). But there is no debate about the earnestness of academic institutions efforts to attract and cultivate bright, environmentally minded students, accomplished faculty, motivated donors, research dollars, and organizational prestige. Evidence of the competition for these prized assets is apparent in the institutions' own promotional materials. The competition is sufficiently fierce that traditional applied science fields including geology, geography, and forestry are eager to capitalize on popular and professional interest in environmental studies and environmental sciences, and have reinvented their missions, re-engineered their curricula, and in some cases, have merged with other more "successful" academic units that have "environment" in their names. Relatively little is known about how the identities of new environmentally oriented programs and older, established programs in the applied sciences are shaped by competition among these programs. Identifying and characterizing the causal variables that inspire academic units to adopt or adapt environmental identities is the core concern of the present study. We consider the language and symbols used to shape these identities. This study does not consider the consequences of new identities on institutional outcomes; for example, on student enrollment, faculty recruitment, or garnering of extramural research awards. These are important matters that should form a broader examination of causes and consequences of competition for institutional primacy in environmental studies and environmental sciences. The core concerns here are about the shaping of communication strategies with only provisional conjectures about consequences. The development of institutional identities in both undergraduate pre-professional and graduate professional environmental programs are considered. How these identities reflect the value demands and expectations of the academic institutions, themselves, is examined. In the sections that follow, the arena of environmental studies and science programs is described and the vital roles that communications play are outlined. Trends we found, data sources we used, and methods for analyzing these data are laid out in the methods and data section and in our results. Harold D. Lasswell's insights into communication help us elucidate how academic units articulate their missions and describe their products (in particular, their degree programs).
DOI: 10.1007/s11077-010-9109-z
Clark, Susan, Rutherford, Murray, Auer, Matthew, Cherney, David, Wallace, Richard, Mattson, David, Clark, Douglas, Foote, Lee, Krogman, Naomi, Wilshusen, Peter, Steelman, Toddi. (2011). “College and University Environmental Programs as a Policy Problem (Part 1): Integrating Knowledge, Education, and Action for a Better World?” Environmental Management, 47(5): 701-715.
Abstract: The environmental sciences/studies movement, with more than 1000 programs at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, is unified by a common interest?ameliorating environmental problems through empirical enquiry and analytic judgment. Unfortunately, environmental programs have struggled in their efforts to integrate knowledge across disciplines and educate students to become sound problem solvers and leaders. We examine the environmental program movement as a policy problem, looking at overall goals, mapping trends in relation to those goals, identifying the underlying factors contributing to trends, and projecting the future. We argue that despite its shared common interest, the environmental program movement is disparate and fragmented by goal ambiguity, positivistic disciplinary approaches, and poorly rationalized curricula, pedagogies, and educational philosophies. We discuss these challenges and the nature of the changes that are needed in order to overcome them. In a subsequent article (Part 2) we propose specific strategies for improvement.
DOI: 10.1007/s00267-011-9619-2

Substantive Focus:
Environmental Policy PRIMARY
Science and Technology Policy SECONDARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory PRIMARY