Akerlof, Karen L., Taryn Bromser-Kloeden, Kristin Timm, Katherine E Rowan, James L. Olds, Chris Clarke, Elizabeth Ban Rohring, Emily Therese Cloyd, K. Curran, Elizabeth C. Duesterhoeft, Mahmud Farooque, Erica Goldman, Lisa Gring-Pemble, Stephanie E. Hampton, Claire Kim Sojung, John Kotcher, Darren Milligan, Carlos L. Muños Brenes, Cynthia Sandoval, Dann Sklarew, Cynthia Smith, Elizabeth Suhay, David C. Tomblin, Crystal Upperman, Andrew Wingfield, & Xiaoquan Zhao (2021, January). Categorizing professionals’ perspectives on environmental communication with implications for graduate education. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. (ePub in advance of print) (doi: 10.1080/17524032.2020.1862890) (Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2020.1862890)

Abstract: The study of environmental communication originated as a diverse multidisciplinary field encompassing a wide array of communicator perspectives. However, as the field evolved, mass media and journalism became its perceived scholarly focus. As a result, environmental communication processes may be less well understood across other settings, such as scientific and research institutions, non-governmental organizations, and federal agencies. To understand how communicators describe their goals, ethics, and strategies within these contexts, we conducted a three-part study of researchers and practitioners working on environmental issues in the Washington, DC, region between October 2019 and January 2020. Employing Q methodology, we identified four distinct perspectives: capacity-builders, translators, policy and decision-supporters, and cultural changemakers. Each of these perspectives is associated with a different range of goals, ethics, and strategic approaches. We describe graduate educational competencies for each of the perspectives and discuss implications for the design of communication research to meet practitioners’ needs.

Karen L Akerlof <kakerlof@gmu.edu> is in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA (USA).

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