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Making History Matter: From Abstract Truth to Critical Engagement

February 22, 2022

A report from the American Association for State and Local History, FrameWorks Institute, National Council on Public History, and Organization of American Historians offers a framing strategy for building a broader understanding of what inclusive history looks like and why it is important for all of us. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, the report, Making History Matter: From Abstract Truth to Critical Engagement, provides historians, educators, museum professionals, and history advocates with evidence-backed recommendations for more cohesively and convincingly communicate about history. To enable productive public dialog about history, which in recent years has become the subject of divisive political discourse, the report's authors call for shifting the focus in three ways: from truth to critical thinking, from abstract debate to concrete engagement, and from winning the debate to progress toward justice. For each recommendation, the report suggests concrete steps to shift current patterns of thinking, for example: explain how the practice of history requires using critical thinking to evaluate different sources and perspectives about the past and different understandings, focus on the process of historical interpretation rather than the goal of interpretation, and connect progress to the idea of learning from past wrongs.

Reframing Adolescent Substance Use and Its Prevention

May 11, 2018

This communications toolkit provides advocates with clear, evidence-based guidance on how to shift public thinking about—and responses to—adolescent substance use.

Gaining Momentum: A FrameWorks Communications Toolkit

March 1, 2017

The way Americans currently think about aging creates obstacles to productive practices and policies. How can the field of aging help build a better understanding of aging, ageism, and what it will take to create a more age-integrated society?Click "Download" to access this resource.

Telling Stories That Explain: Comparing Media and Organizational Discourse on Adolescent Substance Use

August 1, 2016

What's missing from the public conversation on adolescent substance use? For one thing, it's lacking crucial information about what makes adolescence a sensitive period for brain development. That's the conclusion of "Telling Stories that Explain," a new study from the FrameWorks Institute. Researchers analyzed the communications content in media coverage and nonprofit materials, and found that the narratives the public encounters don't tell the whole story.

Talking Juvenile Justice Reform: A FrameWorks Message Memo

June 30, 2016

If advocates are to engage the public as allies in juvenile justice reform, they must promote a new narrative that is sufficiently coherent and persuasive to dislodge current thinking and reshape dominant understandings about the juvenile justice system. In this report, the FrameWorks Institute describes how this can be accomplished by explaining both adolescent development and the justice system in more accessible, more compelling terms. An accompanying communications toolkit -- Shifting Gears on Juvenile Justice — explains how to implement the reframing recommendations using examples from the juvenile justice field.

Aging, Agency and the Attribution of Responsibility: Shifting Public Discourse About Older Adults

April 15, 2016

This report analyzes and compares media and advocacy organizations' narratives about aging and older adults. The goal of the report is to suggest communications strategies that advocates can use to push media discourse in more productive directions, and ultimately increase public support for the policies and programs necessary to promote the well-being of older adults, and ensure their full participation in American society

Guaging Aging: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Aging in America

April 30, 2015

This report lays the groundwork for a larger effort to develop a new, evidence-based narrative around the process of aging in our country and the needs and contributions of older adults. By comparing experts' views to those of the general public, the report details a set of communications challenges to elevating public support for policies and programs that promote the well-being of older adults. Key among these issues is the public's view of aging as a decidedly negative and deterministic process, as well as its overall fatalism about our collective ability to find solutions to the challenges of an aging population.

Conceptualizing US Food Systems with Simplifying Models: Findings from Talk Back Testing

April 1, 2006

The research reported on here focused on identifying one or more "simplifying models" to help Americans think more productively about Food Systems. Previous research efforts on the part of the FrameWorks Institute and its research partners (including Cultural Logic) had established that members of the public have no clear understanding or mental image of the Food System (or of individual food systems that yield particular foods). Instead, for a variety of cultural and cognitive reasons, they toggle between a dominant, "little picture" focus on the lived experience of food – shopping, cooking,eating – and an exaggerated picture of a totally "modernized" food production system, where nearly all food is produced in the equivalent of factories, and bears little or no connection to natural systems. (The latter pattern emerges particularly when people are pressed to think about how food is produced – the former is a much stronger default.). Without a more realistic perspective on how food is produced and distributed, Americans are poorly positioned to engage with important issues that experts are concerned about, and are not able to appreciate the importance of various policy approaches to improving the situation. Experience on other issues suggests that one way of raising engagement and improving the public conversation is to provide Americans with conceptual tools that can help them think not like experts, but like "managers," with a sufficient sense of the "big picture" that they can form reasonable opinions and act on a sense of collective responsibility.

Making the Public Case for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention: A FrameWorks Message Memo

April 1, 2004

The goal of this work is to evaluate the existing body of research available to Prevent Child Abuse America against the findings that emerge from new research, and to identify promising ways to reframe these issues in ways that engage people in prevention, motivate them to prioritize proven policies and programs, and overcome existing mental roadblocks. To that end, this Memo attempts to describe the translation process necessary to engage the public in solutions by identifying specific practices that research suggests would advance public understanding as well as those that are likely to impede it. This research analysis is part of New FrameWorks Research on Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention. Please visit our website for more information.