Contentious or Collegial? Exploring the Diamond Pipeline Across Disciplines in the Land of Oil and Gas

Authors: Allyson Wiley*, University of Oklahoma, Angela Person, University of Oklahoma, Randy Peppler, University of Oklahoma
Topics: Environmental Perception, Communication, Social Geography
Keywords: Environmental Perception, Communication, Environmental Sustainability, Indigenous Rights, Environmental Discourse, Communication Barriers
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Galvez, , Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores how a specific, environmentally sensitive project—the proposed construction of the Diamond Pipeline to transport crude oil from Cushing, OK, to Memphis, TN—is being negotiated across disciplines at a Carnegie R1 Doctoral University that draws significant funding from the oil and gas industry. During Spring 2017, a student environmental group at The University of Oklahoma organized a moderated discussion panel that drew together panelists representing the fields of petroleum engineering, environmental engineering, environmental law, natural resource law, Native American studies, and environmental activism. To explore how issues surrounding the Diamond Pipeline is communicated across disparate disciplines, this research takes an ethnographic approach, and relies on participant observation and in-person interviews of panel participants, organizers, and audience members. The resulting data were analyzed using the constant comparative method to better document which psychological mechanisms and communication approaches facilitated or hindered effective communication about this polarizing topic before, during, and after the Spring 2017 panel discussion. Following its analysis of the Diamond Pipeline panelists’ communication strategies and responses, as well as organizers’ and audience members’ perceptions of the panel proceedings, this paper concludes by suggesting effective ways of communicating in circumstances related to similar, environmentally sensitive issues. These effective communication guidelines provide a valuable framework for establishing productive discourse during circumstances in which pre-existing disciplinary barriers may otherwise preclude effective, cross-disciplinary communication regarding environmentally sensitive subjects.

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