Environmental communication

Environmental communication

Environmental communication refers to the study and practice of how individuals, institutions, societies, and cultures craft, distribute, receive, understand, and use messages about the environment and human interactions with the environment. This includes a wide range of possible interactions, from interpersonal communication to virtual communities, participatory decision making, and environmental media coverage.

From the perspective of practice, Alexander Flor defines environmental communication as the application of communication approaches, principles, strategies and techniques to environmental management and protection.[1]


  • Academic field 1
  • Symbolic action 2
  • Areas of study and practice 3
  • Related journals 4
  • Books 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Academic field

As an academic field, environmental communication emerged from interdisciplinary work involving communication, environmental studies, environmental science, risk analysis and management, sociology, and political ecology.

Flor (2004) considers it as a significant element in the environmental sciences, which he believes to be a transdicipline. He begins his textbook on environmental communication with a declarative statement, "Environmentalism as we know it today began with environmental communication. The environmental movement was ignited by a spark from a writer’s pen, or more specifically and accurately, Rachel Carson’s typewriter." According to Flor, environmental communication has six essentials: knowledge of ecological laws; sensitivity to the cultural dimension; ability to network effectively; efficiency in using media for social agenda setting; appreciation and practice of environmental ethics; and conflict resolution, mediation and arbitration (Ibid). In an earlier book, Flor and Gomez (1993) explores the development of an environmental communication curriculum from the perspectives of practitioners from the government, the private sector and the academe.[2]

Symbolic action

Environmental communication is also a type of symbolic action that serves two functions. Those functions are

Scudder's thesis is aptly reinforced by General Systems Theory, which submits that one of the three critical functions of living systems is the exchange of information with its environment and with other living systems (the other two being the exchange of materials and the exchange of energy). In his book, Flor (2004, page 4) extends this argument by forwarding that, "All living systems, from the simplest to the most complex, are equipped to perform these critical functions. They are called critical because they are necessary for the survival of the living system. Communication is nothing more than the exchange of information. Hence, at its broadest sense, environmental communication is necessary for the survival of every living system, be it an organism, an ecosystem, or (even) a social system."

Areas of study and practice

According to Robert Cox,[3] the field of environmental communication is composed of seven major areas of study and practice:

  1. Environmental rhetoric and discourse
  2. Media and environmental journalism
  3. Public participation in environmental decision making
  4. Social marketing and advocacy campaigns
  5. Environmental collaboration and conflict resolution
  6. Risk communication
  7. Representations of Nature in popular culture and green marketing

Related journals

Related, peer-reviewed journals in this field include:


  • Corbett, Julia B. (2006). Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental Messages. Washington, D.C.: Island Press
  • Cox, J. Robert. (2010). Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
  • Flor, Alexander G. (2004). Environmental Communication: Principles, Approaches and Strategies of Communication Applied to Environmental Management. Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines: University of the Philippines-Open University

See also


  1. ^ Flor, Alexander. (2004). Environmental Communication. Diliman, Quezon City: University of the Philippines-Open University.
  2. ^ Flor, Alexander and Gomez, Ely D. (Eds.,1993). Environmental Communication: Considerations in Curriculum and Delivery Systems Development. Los Banos, Laguna: University of the Philippines Los Banos - Institute of Development Communication.
  3. ^ Cox, J. Robert. (2010). Environmental Communication And The Public Sphere. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

External links

  • What is Environmental Communication? by Mark Meisner
  • Bibliography of books in environmental communication by Mark Meisner
  • ECOresearch Network - Research Network on Environmental Online Communication
  • Indications: Environmental Communication blog (inactive)
  • International Environmental Communication Association (IECA) - a professional association for environmental communication practitioners, teachers, and scholars