Duke graduate student Emily Pechar took part in the NC Legislature’s Graduate Student Education Day on May 16th.  Pechar was one of three Duke graduate students selected to present their research to the General Assembly.

Pechar’s research centers on climate change and how we can use political ideology to depolarize the issue. Her early findings show that climate change politics becomes less polarized once the issue is dissociated from partisan identities. This dissociation can be initiated by  priming someone with a salient, non-partisan identity before approaching an usually polarized issue.

“Hearing about the issue activates their partisan identity,” says Pechar, “so it’s getting folks to think about their nonpartisan identity before talking about these topics.” The hope is that attitudes can be changed to align them with the science.

Pechar’s plans to graduate from Duke next year and hopes to continue her research on “testing identity salience” before leaving Duke. Her climate change politics work has not been published yet. She hopes to give her work more time and review before formally sharing her findings with practitioners.