Goodbye Everyone!

I have to say – This class was probably my favorite class this semester. With the range of topics discussed, I wasn’t sure how it would appeal to me. I was definitely more interested in the health portion of this class, since I’m studying healthcare communication. Once the health section was done, I thought that I would start to tune out and become disinterested, but both the science and the environment sections were presented in such an interesting, thought-provoking way. Throughout the semester, I would share what I learned in this class with my best friends, fiance, and my dad. I’m sure they’re happy the class is coming to an end – it’s probably almost as if they took the class with me. (Seriously, I would show them various video clips we would view in class.)

I think that this class was a major asset in my education, and really helped change my perspective on how to communicate about each of these topics, especially health, since that is what I wish to pursue for my career. I think the literature we read, especially “Talking About Health,” were fantastic and very informative. I think that one of my biggest take-aways from the course is how each of these topics connect. I never necessarily thought that science and the environment would have an impact on how people view health, but after studying each section I think the connection is absolutely present, and I think this class was really beneficial in shaping how I phrase things in the future and how I will communicate with others about each topics.

Overall, I am definitely going to miss this class. Even though I came into the course not particularly interested in the science and environment sections, I learned a lot from each and I think it definitely helped enlighten my own views on various topics, as well as giving me an alternative perspective in some cases. I am 100% glad that I signed up for this course, and I will definitely recommend it to others in the future. I’ll miss you all, have a great exam week and further semesters!


Amanda Hecker

Climate Change & The 2016 American Election: How can we help?

One thing that I found very interesting from the film “Before The Flood,” as we watched in class, was the fact that climate change is a very well-discussed topic in other countries besides our own. The film showed clips of protesters in China urging their leaders to take action upon climate change, which is vastly different from the attitude of many Americans, including our President-elect Donald Trump.

In the US 2016 election, climate change definitely took the back burner on topics, and once Bernie Sanders lost the DNC nomination, who I believe had the most constructive climate change plan, it almost vanished from the presidential candidates topics of discussion, for the most part. Yale’s Project “Six Americas” published their findings about climate change and the 2016 election. As we talked about in class, the majority of voters surveyed reported that climate change had no effect on their preference in presidential candidate.




From data collected from 2008-2016, the Six Americas’ percentages have stayed nearly constant throughout the years. These numbers show how important it is to create awareness among the general public about climate change. Those of us who know the facts about climate change already are on board, and it’s up to us to try and educate and inform those who aren’t sure about climate change. As mentioned in “Before The Flood,” change will be more likely to happen if the public majority urges action.

Images and Facts From:

Global Warming’s Six Americas and the Election, 2016

Amanda Hecker

Dawn Soap: Tough on Grease, Gentle on the Environment?




I’m sure we all have seen a Dawn soap commercial where they lather ducklings and other wildlife in their dish soap, stating that their soap is friendly to the environment. Below is a link to a Dawn soap commercial that I will be evaluating in terms of TerraChoice’s greenwashing sins.

This commercial begins by showing a small ducking sitting in oil. A person, with their hands soapy with Dawn, then picks up this duckling and begins washing it with Dawn soap, and changing frames to a penguin, also soapy with Dawn. The commercial claims that “rescue workers have opened up a lot of Dawn,” and opens a cabinet with fifteen bottles of Dawn in it. The “rescue workers” in the commercial continue to wash the animals with Dawn soap, as the narrator transitions into Dawn’s accomplishments with the environment even further than its soap being safe on animals. As the narrator states, “Dawn helps open something even better,” the “rescue workers” portrayed in the advertisements gather around six animal crates, counting down to the moment in which they open the doors and set all of these animals free, with a gorgeous beach view behind them. As the animals they let free all run toward their natural environment, the narrator boasts that Dawn is donating one million dollars to rescue efforts, and encourages listeners to visit their Facebook page to “find out how the little things that you do make a big difference,” ending the commercial on a close up on a seal that you can only imagine was just reintroduced to its natural environment.

What you don’t hear in the commercial, however, is that in order for Dawn to make a donation, “consumers must go to — which features the bird rescue group and another beneficiary, the Marine Mammal Center — and enter a sequence of numbers printed on the back of bottles,” according to Andrew Adam Newman, in his article titled “Tough on Crude Oil, Soft on Ducklings” on The New York Times. Newman reports that “so far, more than $89,000 has been raised,” as of his September 2009 article. Here is a prime example of the “sin of vagueness” as determined by TerraChoice. The commercial doesn’t state that consumers must take action (other than purchasing the product) in order for Dawn to donate to a rescue effort, they just simply state that the company does donate that money. Another sin exemplified in this commercial is the “sin of no proof,” as nowhere in the commercial is a specific rescue group mentioned, rather they keep their terms broad and vague.

Interestingly enough, Dawn soap uses triclosan, which is an antibiotic agent that is known to be toxic to aquatic environments. The FDA reports that “many liquid soaps labeled antibacterial contain triclosan, an ingredient of concern to many environmental, academic and regulatory groups. Animal studies have shown that triclosan alters the way some hormones work in the body and raises potential concerns for the effects of use in humans. We don’t yet know how triclosan affects humans and more research is needed,” and also goes on to say that “there isn’t enough science to show that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water,” and encourages that consumers simply wash their hands in plain soap and water instead. By using this ingredient in their “environmental friendly” soap, they are violating the “sin of worshipping false labels,” as defined by TerraChoice.

Amanda Hecker

The Juxtaposition of Environmental Advertising Techniques

social-advertisement-powerful-ads-38.jpg“Deforestation And The Air We Breathe: Before It’s Too Late”


This week in class, we talked about the four different types of environmental advertising, nature as a backdrop, green product attributes, green image, ad environmental advocacy. What I find interesting about these three different techniques is the overall purpose that they each have.

Nature as a backdrop as an advertising technique, to me, is the most subtle in regards to the environment. These advertisements include the various commercials we see everyday with different car brands driving through the wilderness, across a mountain, etc, and even the personification of animals, which I realized I never would have considered that attribute a form of environmental advertising before this class. As mentioned in class, this technique is also the least studied of the environmental advertising techniques, and are often taken for granted. At the end of the lecture, Dr. Sastry talked a little bit about the psychological effects of different nature advertisements. When he said that these advertisements seem into our psyche gradually, and thus establish our relationships with nature gradually over time, I think that the nature as a backdrop technique helps greatly to establish a basis for this principle.

For example, we are bombarded with these advertisements depicting humans using nature as they please multiple times a day, and we just see this as normal because it is what we have been socially constructed to do, going back to the principle of anthropocentrism. This exact reason is what makes the nature as a backdrop technique so interesting to me- it’s subtlety simply infiltrates our cultural norms, whereas with the other three techniques, the environment is openly discussed with its ideas of preservationism, conservation, etc. The article listed below shows 42 of the most powerful advertisements, including various environmentally-focused advertisements. Scrolling through them, you can clearly see examples of environmental advocacy due to the fact that they usually rely on such a large shock factor.

It’s interesting to me that these advertisements (environmental advocacy) attempt to juxtapose the nature as a backdrop advertising that we so commonly disregard as environmental advertising. For example, in the advertisement pictured at the beginning of my blog post (number 33 on the list in the link below), it depicts a forest in the shape of human lungs, and then breaks away part of these forest-lungs to help illustrate that deforestation is affecting humans’ breathing issues. Now if you consider the Audi Q5 Mountain Bike commercial we viewed in class in comparison, that commercial is doing just that – destroying part of the environment for human leisure, and adding to pollution with automobile exhaust. I think comparing these two types of advertising is a very interesting concept that we should think about more in our daily lives, when we are exposed to up to 3,000 advertisements each day.

42 Of The Most Powerful Social And Environmental Ads That Will Change The Way You Think

Amanda Hecker

A Sense of Place: What does it really mean and how can it really influence us?

14808090_10154768634259662_678242978_o.jpgAt the beginning of one of our lectures, we were asked to both close our eyes and imagine a time in which we were amazed by nature, and also to draw what we thought of when we heard the word environment. For me, I thought of my trips to Gatlinburg, TN with my family both when I was a young kid and just recently over the summer. As a result, I drew a setting that very much so reflects that same setting.

Now perhaps I just drew something similar to my experiences because I had just been thinking about them, but maybe there’s a deeper reason. As we learned in class, there are different influences to our environmental beliefs, and they come from our childhood experiences, sense of place, and historical influences.

Out of these three influences, sense of place stood out to me to be rather interesting, while childhood experiences and historical influences seemed rather logical to me. But I had never thought of sense of place before that lecture. I grew up in a small town just north of Columbus, where everyone basically knew everybody else, the same parents were avid volunteers in both the schools and community, and it seemed as though everyone agreed when it came to ideologies. Except me, it felt. I never really felt like I belonged there, so honestly, when I graduated high school (and even during my senior year), I was counting down the days that I could leave my small town. When I first read about sense of place in the textbook, I thought about my hometown as my “rootedness” setting, but that slowly changed after I learned more about it in lecture.

I realized that when I finally left, I understood what sense of place really meant. Now, I love my old town. Except not exactly. I love some of the people, namely my family, remaining friends, and my dog Jake. But other than that, I really don’t care, and I lived there my entire life. I moved to Cincinnati in 2013 and now I can’t imagine being anywhere else. It definitely helped me find my self-identity and I’ve finally found a place where I feel as though I belong. Ironically, I just moved to Covington, but the sense of place is still there. I live directly on the river, so I literally am looking at the Cincinnati Skyline right out my window as I write this.

Sense of place very much so describes our environment, and I get that now. I think that if the activity I wrote about from class was slightly altered, and asked us instead to draw what we thought was “home” I would draw Cincinnati, or at least a larger town where you don’t always run into someone at the grocery store or doctor’s office.


Amanda Hecker

How Can Social Media Shape Our Views On Science-Related Issues?



In class, we discussed how a lot of individuals receive their news from social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and even Snapchat. We mentioned how you can even watch the presidential debates live on several of these platforms! Getting our news from social media sources seems silly when you first hear it, but it does make sense, as social media is usually what dominates most of our internet usage. I’m sure we’ve all found out about a current news topic from social media, whether it’s local news from your hometown when a Facebook friend shared an article or wrote a status stating their thoughts on the issue, or national, through the use of “trending” hashtags. The issue with this, and all of media, is that it can distort the truth and include bias, misleading readers to the outcomes they want us to hear or read, and how we should perceive it based upon heir framing, language, and emphasis.

Boston University explains this with the term, “scienceploitation,” where the true science is dumbed down to a version for the general public, and commonly paired with a catching, “clickbait” headliner. Another classmate already mentioned The Washington Post’s Article “The Media is Ruining Science,” and how the media occasionally disguises online polling with real scientific studies, and since it’s on the internet, it must be true, right? (/s)

Boston University conducted a nationwide study comparing scientific accuracy and how it is perceived on social media while using antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as an example. The study found that “the more frequently respondents reported posting and sharing any information online to social media, they were increasingly likely to be highly misinformed about AMR,” and that we are more likely to believe what we see online if it is shared from our friends and family, as it commonly is on social media platforms.

Another interesting point made by Boston University is splitting the blame of the public/science miscommunication with the scientists themselves. They state that the “disconnected arrogance […] turns off the public and does not get them excited about learning more.” This idea can relate to the majority of the public being scientifically illiterate, which we also spoke about in class. The distance between scientists and the general public is perpetuated through use of the internet and various media outlets, as it allows us to ignore the topics we do not understand (so we can avoid feeling unintelligent) and gives us more opportunity to choose to believe the misleading information put out by the media.

By Amanda Hecker

Articles Mentioned:

Brand vs. Generic Pharmaceuticals

In class last week we discussed brand and generic prescription medications and the pharmaceutical industry in general, and how they profit from our health. Since I’m in close contact with prescriptions every day and (unfortunately) deal with insurance companies just as often, there are a few things I found interesting as we spoke about the pharmaceutical company in class.

One day at work I was changing a prescription to brand name Lipitor rather than its generic equivalent atorvastatin, and when I brought it to my pharmacist to verify, he told me that Pfizer, the drug manufacturer of Lipitor, also makes the generic equivalent atorvastatin. This isn’t constant with all drugs and manufacturers or even in all pharmacies, but at my store, we get the brand and generic from the same drug manufacturer, meaning that they are made on the same line out of the same inactive ingredients.

There has also been a lot of discussion about the massive price increase of the EpiPen. Interestingly enough, there are a few alternatives, but they are not considered bioequivalent by the FDA, making it so pharmacies can not substitute the generic or alternative epinephrine auto-injectors for the brand name EpiPen. Essentially, if your doctor writes for EpiPen, we have to fill EpiPen at the pharmacy, and in order to change it to an alternative, we have to get a whole new prescription from the doctor. I do not understand why pharmaceutical companies choose to monopolize life-saving drugs like epinephrine. With auto-injectable epinephrine, the drug itself is very cheap, and the differences between the brands are in the injector itself. This makes switching between brands confusing for patients who have been using the same type of auto-injector for years. With such an important, life-saving medication, it is significant that you understand how to use which one you receive.

Lastly, something that I found interesting about brand versus generic medications was the price fluctuation immediately after releasing a new generic. Take Crestor (rosuvastatin) for example. Just a couple months ago, AstraZenica’s, the manufacturer of brand-name Crestor, patent ran up and other drug companies began making their own bioequivalent versions. When you hear brand versus generic, you assume the generic will end up cheaper, right? Well, sometimes drug manufacturers will do all that they can to keep consumers from using their product rather than the new approved generic. Crestor has several coupon cards for free trials and co-pay savings. A lot of patients at my pharmacy who had been paying approximately $10-$20 for brand name Crestor were suddenly expected to pay almost $300 for the generic. (At pharmacies, we are legally required to dispense the equivalent available generic unless the doctor or patient requests otherwise.)

All in all, it is ridiculous that the pharmaceutical companies are competing with one another to get their product used, all while causing the population to suffer. With something as important as healthcare, you would expect that your best interests would be looked out for, but as we are learning in class, unfortunately that is rarely the case anymore.