Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Asking the right questions

I took part in some students' survey last week in Leamington town centre. Their questions ranged from happiness to town surroundings and included the slightly obscure "Is there space for animals and humans to interact together in the centre of Leamington."

Standing in a busy shopping street, with visions of petting pigeons and feeding foxes, I was struck by the importance of asking the right questions. It was the word interact that got me. Did the students mean that we should have opportunities for meaningful exchange with the urban wildlife?

In my research into language and environmental responsibility, I wonder if there is a danger of manipulating the answer based on the words in the question I use. If I ask "how do you talk about your environmental responsibility", is it more likely that I will get a legal/political response? Would a better question be, "how does your community talk about the natural environment you live in?"

Oh, and I had to say "no" to the students.

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