Dr. Hank Jenkins-Smith

EPSCoR Research Focus: 
Co-Principal Investigator
Assoc. Director, OU National Institute for Risk and Resilience | Assoc. Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Oklahoma
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B.A. | Political Science and Economics | Linfield College | 1979
M.A. | Political Science | University of Rochester | 1981
Ph.D. | Political Science | University of Rochester | 1985
Research Interests: 

OK NSF EPSCoR RII Award #OIA1946093

Dr. Hank Jenkins-Smith is co-principal investigator of the OK NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Award No. OIA-1946093 (2020-2025), Socially Sustainable Solutions for Water, Carbon, and Infrastructure Resilience in Oklahoma (S3OK). The $20 million project is a social science-led, multi-disciplinary collaboration among more than 30 social, physical, biological, engineering, and computational scientists from Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma, University of Tulsa, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Langston University, East Central University, and Noble Research Institute. The research team is working to develop and test science-based solutions for complex problems at the intersection of land use, water availability, and infrastructure in Oklahoma.  

Dr. Jenkins-Smith's S3OK research focuses on theories of the public policy process, with particular emphasis on the management (and mismanagement) of controversial technical issues involving high-risk perceptions on the part of the public. Through a prior NSF EPSCoR track-1 award, he and collaborators initiated a series of studies focused on social responses to the risks posed by severe weather. 

Dr. Jenkins-Smith's research focuses on the Social Dynamics Research Framework aspect of the active OK NSF EPSCoR project. Human perceptions and beliefs are at the heart of the most critical challenges facing Oklahoma. They shape behaviors and collective decisions, and therefore our responses to the changing world. Using data from the M-SISNet, the social dynamics team will (a) measure and model perceptions and beliefs underpinning the social narratives that shape debates among the public, opinion leaders, and scientists about the emerging, interconnected, and salient threats to Oklahomans identified in our research focus areas; (b) evaluate how widely shared narratives have undermined collective action to pursue convergent solutions to wicked problems that recognize and address the array of anthropogenic drivers of these threats; and (c) measure social valuation for solutions using willingness-to-pay for potential sustainable solutions. 

Coupled with the project’s four interconnected focus areas, the Social Dynamics framework provides the structure and direction of the project. The distinct but interrelated focus areas and the research questions they pursue were selected for this project because they deepen understanding of overlapping natural and human dynamics that drive critical problems facing Oklahoma today. Treated individually as stand-alone problems, they are susceptible to social polarization and policy gridlock. Addressed as an integrated set, these dynamics offer the prospect for revised understandings of problem boundaries and provide the potential for informed value tradeoffs across social groups that can enable socially sustainable solutions to address our most pressing problems.

Dr. Jenkins-Smith earned his Ph.D. in political science and public policy from the University of Rochester (1985). He has been employed as a policy analyst in the DOE Office of Policy Analysis (1982-83), and previously served on the faculty of Southern Methodist University, the University of New Mexico, and Texas A&M University. He is currently a member of the faculty in the Center for Applied Social Research at the University of Oklahoma and serves as the Associate Director of the Center for Risk, Crisis & Resilience. Professor Jenkins-Smith has published books, articles, and reports on public policy processes, risk perception, national security, and energy and environmental policy. He has served on National Research Council Committees focused on policies to transport spent nuclear fuel and dispose of chemical weapons, and he currently serves as an elected member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement. Last year he gave several presentations to the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to assist in the Commission’s deliberations on public acceptance of new initiatives in nuclear facility siting.

Learn more about the OK NSF EPSCoR research project. 

Key Publications: 
  • Jenkins-Smith, H.; J. Ripberger, C. Silva, N. Carlson, K. Gupta, M. Henderson, and A. Goodin. (2017) “The Oklahoma Meso-Scale Integrated Socio-Geographic Network: A Technical Overview.” Journal of Atmospheric & Oceanic Technology. 34 (11): 2431-2441.
  • Ripberger, J, H. Jenkins-Smith, C. Silva, D. Carlson, K Gupta, N Carlson, and R. Dunlap. (2017). “Bayesian versus politically motivated reasoning in human perception of climate anomalies.” Environmental Research Letters, 12(11), p.114004.
  • Kahan, D. and H. Jenkins-Smith, T. Tarantola, C. Silva, and D. Braman. (2015). “Geoengineering and Climate Change Polarization: Testing a Two-channel Model of Science Communication.” Annals of American Academy of Political & Social Sci. v. 658: 192-222.
  • Jenkins-Smith, H., C. Silva, K. Gupta, and J. Ripberger. (2014) “Belief System Continuity and Change in Policy Advocacy Coalitions: Using Cultural Theory to Specify Belief Systems, Coalitions, and Sources of Change.” Policy Studies Journal, 42(4): 484-508.
  • Goebbert, K., H. Jenkins-Smith, K. Klockow, M. Nowlin, and C. Silva. (2012) “Weather, Climate and Worldviews: The Sources and Consequences of Public Perceptions of Changes in Local Weather Patterns.” Weather, Climate and Society 4(2): 132-144.
  • Hui Li, Hank Jenkins-Smith, Carol Silva, Robert Berrens, and Kerry Herron. 2009. “Public Support for Reducing US Reliance on Fossil Fuels: Investigating Household Willingness to Pay for Energy Research and Development” Ecological Economics 68(3): 731-742.
  • Herron, K. and H. Jenkins-Smith. (2006) Critical Masses and Critical Choices: Evolving Public Opinion on Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism and Security. Pittsburgh University Press. Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Berrens, R., A. Bohara, H. Jenkins-Smith, C. Silva, and D. Weimer. (2004) “Information and Effort in Contingent Valuation Surveys: Application to Global Climate Change using National Internet Samples,” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 47: 331-363.
  • Berrens, R., A. Bohara, H. Jenkins-Smith, C. Silva and D. Weimer. (2003) “The Advent of Internet Surveys for Political Research: A Comparison of Telephone and Internet Samples,” Political Analysis 11: 1-23.
  • Sabatier, P. and H. Jenkins-Smith. (1993) Policy Change and Learning: An Advocacy Coalition Approach. Westview Press, Boulder, CO.
Curriculum Vitae: