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Three challenges for environmental communication research


Lester, EA, Three challenges for environmental communication research, Environmental Communication, 9, (3) pp. 392-397. ISSN 1752-4032 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Taylor & Francis

DOI: doi:10.1080/17524032.2015.1044065


I want to identify three major challenges that I see for our field, and suggest that in confronting these, we are forced to reconsider how we integrate and organize the knowledge, theories, and actors that have been associated with environmental communication (EC) research in the past. As our field encourages us to foreground the local—it is, after all, specific landscapes that provide minerals, fossil fuels, timber products, or the locations for nuclear power plants, and it is communities and individuals who carry the anxieties and lived realities of damaged environments or restricted economies—I base my comments in part on research and lived experiences in Tasmania. The island state of Australia has been racked by decades of conflict over natural resource use and extractive industries. Environmental issues have led to falls of government, arrests of leading business and political figures, violence, and social and economic hardship. But two key points: The first is that Tasmania, like the rest of the world, has been rendered increasingly permeable by the Internet, global environmental risks and concerns, and transnational politics and decision-making. Localized threats and concerns coalesce symbolically into discourses of global risk, and discourses of global risk are synthesized for decision-making on a local, regional, and international scale. The second is that the Tasmanian conflict is mild in comparison to many of those being played out in developing countries, as well as in the poorer and more disadvantaged regions of some first-world nations. We know, for example, that environmental reporting is now one of the main reasons for violence against journalists around the world (Reporters without Borders, 2009). We see activists charged with crimes disproportionately with their actions. Science has been scandalized, silenced, and delegitimized, often by national governments. I suggest that the field is facing not only intellectual and methodological challenges that we should be eager to embrace, but also political challenges that could impact on our own legitimacy and capacity to contribute to environmental debate and policy. These also require our combined effort.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Communication and media studies
Research Field:Communication and media studies not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:The media
UTAS Author:Lester, EA (Professor Libby Lester)
ID Code:101101
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:7
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2015-06-10
Last Modified:2016-11-15

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