Faculty Spotlight: Erik Nisbet

Erik Nisbet

Political science and international relations have intrigued Associate Professor Erik Nisbet since his undergraduate years at Cornell University. Today, this is the main focus of his research. This summer, he co-authored an article in The Conversation presenting new data from Russian pollster VCIOM about how Russians view President Donald Trump and the United States. The article was published just before the one-on-one summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16.

Nisbet is currently observing the use of Russian disinformation campaigns overseas.

“I am looking at the psychology and the role that communication plays, as well as what factors influence people’s beliefs about Russian disinformation tactics about the Ukraine,” Nisbet said. “I am interested in public opinion and policy preferences and the role that communication and media plays in influencing those public opinions.”

Nisbet also has a grant under review at the U.S. State Department dealing with cyber security behaviors and attitudes of journalists in Eurasian countries. According to Nisbet, this will begin as a research project and develop into an online platform to train journalists on cybersecurity practices.

With his specialization of political and international communication, Nisbet is highly involved with Ohio State’s Mershon Center for International and Security Studies. Within the Mershon Center, Nisbet founded the Eurasian Security and Governance Program with colleague Olga Kamenchuk. The program’s mission is to build and convey policy-informing knowledge and expertise on security and governance in the greater Eurasian region through research, professional education and networking.  

The program is already proving to be successful, as Nisbet and colleagues recently traveled to Moscow in conjunction with the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund and the Russian Public Opinion Research Center. Nisbet said it was interesting it was to hear different perspectives between American and Russian researchers.

While Nisbet’s primary appointment is with the School of Communication, he also has courtesy appointments with the School of Environment and Natural Resources as well as the Department of Political Science.

On the environmental front, Nisbet examines the role strategic communication plays in controversial environmental issues. In 2011, Nisbet received grant funding from the National Science Foundation and was a co-investigator examining water quality issues in Ohio and how the media influenced the public’s perception of these issues.

Between environmental and political communications, Nisbet remains interested in studying the same underlying concept: how the public interprets the disinformation of controversial topics and how it impacts our decision making.

Article written by student Hannah Dunlap