Salil D. Benegal


DePauw University, Greencastle, IN
(2016-)
Contact: salilbenegal at depauw dot edu or salil dot benegal at gmail dot com.

Welcome. I am an assistant professor of Political Science at DePauw University. My current research examines political misinformation and polarization in the context of climate change. I have just published an article at Climatic Change ("Correcting Misinformation About Climate Change: The Impact of Partisanship in an Experimental Setting", co-authored with Lyle Scruggs - pre-print available here), which uses survey experiments to examine the importance of source credibility in correcting climate change denialism and misinformation. We find that corrections from surprising sources speaking against expected/partisan interests can be especially persuasive in correcting misinformation, and reducing the partisan gap on climate change. Our findings have also been covered on NPR Michigan Radio and in The Washington Post.

Another recently published paper at Environmental Politics (The Spillover of Race and Racial Attitudes into Public Opinion about Climate Change) examines how racial associations and prejudices towards Obama have "spilled over" into the domain of climate change rhetoric and public opinion, contributing to the growing political divide between Democrats and Republicans on this issue. These findings have also been covered in the Sierra Club Magazine and by Nexus Media/ThinkProgress.

Prior to joining DePauw, I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut. My dissertation "A Changing Climate in the Public Mind", examined how perceptions of economic risk and partisan cues affect attitudes and beliefs towards climate change in the USA and Europe using a series of cross-national polls from the US and Europe, and survey experiments run in the US. Some of my research on this has been published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences (2017) and in Global Environmental Change (2012, with Lyle Scruggs) on trends in belief in global warming during the recent economic recession. (N.B: Media coverage on this paper at WiredScienceDaily and MSNBC.) My research page lists all recent publications with links to manuscripts and where available, replication data.

My teaching focuses on areas of both environmental politics and policy, political misinformation in public opinion, and democratic institutions. My teaching page provides a summary of the specific courses I teach. Please email me for syllabi. I also have an interest in the progressive realization and fulfillment of economic and social human rights, and am affiliated with the UConn Economic and Social Rights Research Group (ESRG).