Environmental Communication

MEM (class of ’22) student, Zoe Wong, has created a fabulous guide to Communicating Environmentalism: Strategies for Non-Profit Organizations.

The guide “describes four communication strategies that seek to overcome psychological barriers to climate action among the American public. These strategies are based on published research from leading scientists and experts. They include: 1) choosing frames carefully, 2) appealing to positive emotions, 3) reducing the psychological distance between the audience and climate impacts, and 4) actively combating misinformation from corporate or political actors.” These strategies are also applicable to other environmental issues.

Examples and details can be found within the guide. General information about Environmental Communication can be found below.

What is environmental communication?

Talking about environmental issues. Contextualizing them. Debating them. Educating about them. Advocating for them.

Okay, but what does that look like?

It could be a news article. It could be a presentation.

Does it have to be so formal?

No, you could tell an audio story, a video story, or use any media format that you choose (or just have a discussion with someone). Writing and giving presentations are the two most common ways of using environmental communication in the Nicholas School.

Why is environmental communication important?

How did you first learn about an environmental issue? Probably not through a scientific journal. Maybe you watched a documentary or read a newspaper article or heard people talking about the issue.

Environmental issues are complex. They are also crucial for our survival on this planet.

The people that work on environmental issues have to compete for time and attention with everybody else working on all sorts of other important issues.

Making complex issues easy to understand will be key to motivating people to action, solving those complex issues, collaborating with people working on other problems, and even moving up the career ladder.

Need more examples or inspiration? Check out:

The Nicholas School blogs

Short form, blogs, and news:

Why Apple Bought a Forest

Rising Seas Aren’t the Only Threat to Coastlines

Long form:

The Bid for Bears Ears

Environmentalism’s Racist History (from Duke Law’s own Jedidiah Purdy!)

Alternative formats:

Fracking, Explained (Sort of like a slide deck, but fancier)

Connecting People to Conservation through Video

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