International Environmental Communication Association Strategic Planning Document October 10, 2010 Background The purpose of this document is to establish

the need for an International Environmental Communication Association, suggest the goals and structure for such an association, and identify the steps necessary to form such an association. Its intent is not to be prescriptive, but proactive: to start the strategic planning process by provoking discussion about the overall direction of an international association for practitioners and scholars of environmental communication. This document is the product of the Environmental Communication Association Task Force (ECATF), a volunteer group formed in October 2009 (See Appendix A: Call for Participation) that includes representatives from the Environmental Communication Network (ECN), Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, The Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE), the Science and Environment Communication Section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), and the Environment, Science and Risk Communication Working Group of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR). This document was developed by a smaller working group within the Task Force. It drew upon the research of other working groups within ECATF that conducted a needs assessment of ECN members and provided data on other associations’ organizational and membership models (See Appendix B: Task Force Membership). Table of Contents 1. Rationale 2. Aspirations 3. Mission Statement 4. Membership 5. Functions and Benefits 6. Suggested Governance Structure 7. Strategic Planning Process 1. Rationale for forming a new international environmental communication association: Environmental communication (EC) is a rapidly growing area of scholarship and practice. At present, core academic activities of the emerging environmental communication field include:

● the Environmental Communication Network (ECN), an informational web site

and LISTSERV (with over 700 subscribers) created and managed for over a decade by Professor Mark Meisner from State University of New York (
● the Conference on Communication and the Environment (COCE), held

biennially at various locations in the United States since 1991 (next COCE is in El Paso TX in June, 2011--see call for papers at
● peer-reviewed academic journals, including Applied Environmental Education

and Communication (, edited by Brian Day and published since 2001, and Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture (, edited by Stephen Depoe and published since 2007. Both journals published by Taylor-Francis Routledge. Public Understanding of Science (, edited by Martin Baur and published since 1992; and Science Communication (, edited by Susanna Horniq Priest, and published since 1979 are both published by Sage. Other related journals include Green Theory and Praxis: The Journal of Ecopedagogy, (, edited by Richard Kahn and published since 2005; The International Journal of Sustainability Communication and The Journal of Environmental Education.
● a variety of divisions/working groups/etc. within existing communication

associations that host panels and meetings at conferences. These groups include the National Communication Association (NCA) Environmental Communication division; the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) including the Communicating Science, Health, Environment, and Risk Working Group (ComSHER); the Western States Communication Association (WSCA) Environmental Communication division; the International Association for Media and Communication (IAMCR) Environment, Science and Risk Communication Working Group; the European Environmental Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) Science and Environment Communication section; and the Climate Change Network within the Media, Communication, and Cultural Studies Association (MECCSA) in the U.K.
● other national and international associations, such as the Association for the

Study of Literature and the Environment ( and Ecolinguistics in Australia, that include environmental communication as an area of study

● a number of university graduate programs and research centers or labs in the

United States and abroad that maintain a focus on environmental communication research (see representative list at This broad array of activities has produced some excellent scholarship and teaching, but has had limited impact in academic and policy communities in the U. S. and other countries over the past several years. Perhaps because of the relative newness of the field, or its loose and fragmentary organizational approach, environmental communication has often lacked visibility within the broader discipline of communication, as well as other academic and non-academic communities. This lack of visibility has created issues ranging from a dearth of funding for environmental communication research to impediments to the growth and cohesion of the field more generally, especially given the increasingly global context of environmental issues. Additionally, because many of these core activities have relied on individuals to sustain them, processes for leadership transition, milestones for growth of the field, and guidelines for participation have not been adequately developed. The absence of a central organizing function has meant that no process has been established for electing leaders or making decisions that could enhance the growth and promote the visibility of environmental communication, such as internationalizing the field, interfacing with other associations, networking with collaborators, supporting students/junior faculty, and promoting research. Practitioners of environmental communication face similar organizational issues due to lack of a professional association. An IECA would provide a professional home for both researchers and practitioners of environmental communication, who would benefit from networking and collaboration opportunities provided by such an organization. A professional organization will create a network of experts in both the theory and practice of environmental communication. As noted in a needs assessment of ECN subscribers, “creating an IECA would give almost all professionals in environmental communication, researchers and practitioners alike, an advantage in progressing their research, reaching a larger audience and assisting with the collaboration and sharing of information for all.”1 These challenges and opportunities can be addressed by the creation of a new international professional association that will provide a transparent and sustainable platform for the increasingly numerous, varied, and globally essential

Needs assessment of members of ECN, conducted by Todd Norton and Washington State University students, May 2010.

environmental communication activities. We believe that a new professional association would provide: stability for EC at institutional level that provides increased infrastructure and form for the field; and support for core activities (e.g. ECN web site, conference, journal) ● clear governance, transparency, and decision-making structures; ● recruitment of new people, networking opportunities for members; ● a public face for EC that translates into social and political visibility and creates an identifiable organization for EC that encompasses related existing organizations; ● linkages outside of the communication discipline, and with science communication, risk communication, rhetoric of science, sustainability science and communication, natural resource management, etc. This is important given possible opportunities for funding; ● an umbrella function for linking EC to policy organizations such as the US National Center for Science Education and the European Environmental Communication Networks, among others ; ● online support for clearinghouse (research) and collaborations between academics and practitioners; ● support for education efforts at the undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education levels, support for expanding educational opportunities, such as support for new Ph.D. programs. ● support for outreach ● support for professional development opportunities for practitioners

2. Aspirations for an international environmental communication association include:
● Defining: Increasing our ability to articulate core values and to support

organizational coherency; ● Including: Increasing our ability to include both practitioners and scholars and involving all energetic people who can help us to build on the current momentum and create a critical mass; ● Internationalizing: Increasing the international focus of environmental communication (including research, conferences, publications/editorial boards, outreach, representation); ● Integrating: Increasing our ability to provide that which pertains to environmental communication (research, conferences, journals, courses, mailing lists, etc.) from one “location” such that anyone interested in environmental communication will know where to find what they need;

● Networking: Increasing our involvement with other organizations (joint-

conferences, pre-conferences, cyber meetings, etc.); ● Digitizing: Increasing our use of digital communication technology (e.g. conference participation with option for in-person and virtual attendance, research/information dissemination via YouTube, etc.) and exploring how these activities decrease our carbon footprint; ● Planning: Increasing our planning timelines to allow for greater predictability and participation; ● Synergizing: Increasing our ability to interact and plan with members of existing institutions such that we can cultivate new, innovative linkages; ● Expanding: Increasing our ability to grow by drawing on the strengths of existing materials from other organizational development experiences as well as the visions of those who become involved 3. Mission Statement The International Environmental Communication Association (IECA – working name) is an international professional forum for promoting and integrating environmental communication practice, research, and teaching consistent with the goals of social and ecological sustainability in diverse contexts. As such, the IECA supports and promotes: ● Research and scholarship in EC; ● Pedagogy, teaching and curriculum development in undergraduate and graduate EC; ● Good practices in applied EC; ● Outreach to those interested in EC including community members and nongovernmental organizations policy makers, business members; ● Connections and collaborations across state, disciplinary and organizational “borders” 4. Membership

4.1 Open approach: Membership within IECA will be open to those who are involved in the research, education, and practice of environmental communication and who are willing to support the association’s mission and activities IECA seeks a broad and diverse membership base so as to promote the fruitful exchange of ideas across professional and disciplinary fields, and to provide the greatest benefit to the largest audience in interested parties. A needs assessment of ECN conducted by ECATF in March-April 2010, found that 76% of respondents identified as scholars, while 24% identified as practitioners (including communication professionals, governmental and nongovernmental

representatives and activists). A recent informal survey of the primary interests of subscribers to ECN received 287 responses: roughly 60% identified as scholars (including students), 40% identified as practitioners. These polls demonstrate the broad scope of the field of environmental communication, and suggest the benefit of having an organization to establish a more formal roster of membership simply for the purposes of knowing who’s in the field. In this vein, it is critical that membership in IECA is open to all persons who subscribe to the association’s mission, and who pay the annual dues. IECA shall not discriminate in any way against members or potential members on the basis of race, gender, religion, age, nationality, ethnic origin, physical disability, or sexual orientation. 4.2 Dues: Membership dues will primarily provide financial support for IECA functions outlined in Section 5, Additional funding sources will be sought for IECA. Other sources of funding will be part of the next phase of organizational development. Given the diverse membership of the field of Environmental Communication, one possibility is a tiered dues system that correlates to the membership tiers. A tierstructure membership model might include the following membership categories: individual, institutional, student, International Academic Group, and Practitioner (Activist, NGO, Public Administrator). The association could offer membership options with differential fees (e.g. for people depending on country, professional status, etc.). For examples of tiered membership fee structures, see the Society for Prevention Research ( and European Communication Research and Education Association ( 5. Functions and Member Benefits In support of its stated mission, goals and objectives (See Section 3), the International Environmental Communication Association (IECA) will support a number of functions and activities. The items listed below should be considered an initial list of core functions for fulfilling IECA’s mission, and are not meant to be exhaustive or exclusionary. Once established, IECA will develop a strategic planning matrix to map how these and other functions correspond to IECA’s mission, goals, and objectives. 5.1 Conference Support: IECA will provide conference support for the Conference on Communication and the Environment (COCE), and will seek to develop other conference sponsorship opportunities (both brick-and-mortar & virtual). Conference sponsorship will enable the sharing of ideas across both

academic disciplines and fields of practice, and expand the conversation on environmental communication as an international discipline. Potential conference support may take the form of monetary and other resource support, conference planning expertise, and host support. Additionally, in support of the association’s aspiration to maintain a low carbon footprint, and minimal negative environmental impact, conference sponsorship will also include development and support of virtual conference opportunities. 5.2 Journal Support: IECA will support Environmental Communication: Journal of Nature and Culture. This function clearly supports the association’s goals of raising the profile of the field, facilitating practical applications of research, promoting collaboration of scholars and practitioners, and supporting teaching and learning. IECA will provide editorial support for the journal, providing monetary and intellectual resources necessary to continue strong publication record and structural support with regards to editorial transition and other publishing activities. 5.3 Network Support: IECA will support the Environmental Communication Network (ECN), which houses the email listserv, “Indications” blog, COCE proceedings, and the ECN website ( with links to journals, conferences, higher education programs and courses in environmental communication, and an extensive bibliography and filmography. This independent, non-profit, non-commercial educational service was founded, and is run, by SUNYESF Professor Mark Meisner on a volunteer basis. Although the network is housed on SUNY-ESF servers, it is independent of the university. The ECN has been instrumental in the genesis of IECA, and as such, it will be a primary function of this association to provide institutional support to the network. Support functions will initially be developed on an as-needed basis, with the overall goal being to institutionalize these efforts and ultimately expand on the efficacy, longevity, and scope of the ECN. 5.4 Membership Benefits: Members of IECA will receive numerous benefits, including material, informational, solidarity and purposive benefits. Material benefits include subscription to the journal and conference support. Informational benefits include a membership directory that functions as a database of experts and provides networking opportunities. Solidarity benefits of membership in IECA include the community that is propagated by the LISTSERV, committees and working groups, Purposive benefits include the ability to vote in IECA elections and serve on committees/boards (see Section 6 on Governance Structure).

6. Governance Structure IECA will be governed based on a set of organizational by-laws to be developed . The by-laws will promote both openness and accountability in the performance of activities consistent with the mission of the organization. IECA governance will include both elected officers and volunteer positions, and may be supported as well by paid staff as needed. Possibilities for governance structure of IECA are drawn from several models and include aspects of other related organizations including the ECD, NCA and The Western States Communication Association (WSCA), and the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR). Board of Directors: This branch of IECA leadership will be the primary policy-making body. Board members will be either elected via direct membership voting or appointed by the executive committee of elected officers (see below). Board membership, where possible, should demonstrate geographic diversity and mirror the international and vocational diversity of the organization. Term limits will be adopted as appropriate. Elected Officers: This branch of the IECA will consist of 4 elected positions: President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. These positions are primarily administrative and are responsible for executing policies adopted by the Board of Directors. Term limits will be adopted as appropriate for each office. Other Leadership Positions: These positions may be elected or chosen by a subset of the membership (i.e. by a committee). ● Journal Editor ● Network Director and Site Editor (ECN) ● Conference Host ● Student Representative(s) Additional Committees: Committee membership would likely be determined by appointment of the board and executive elected officials. Committees might include: ● Executive Committee- will oversee all aspects of the association. ● Publications Committee- will develop aim and scope of the journal; Selects journal editor ● Conference Committee- will be responsible for all aspects of conference planning, including site selection. This committee will adhere to a principle of globalized venues and virtual conferencing whenever possible.

● Networking Committee: committee devoted to international networking and

bridging academic/non-academic interests Managing Director Staff Position: Pending budget availability and need, IECA may hire a staff person to manage the day-to-day activities of the association and to support core functions and activities. The staff person would report to the Board of Directors. 7. Strategic Planning Process This document is the beginning of a strategic planning process that will define the International Environmental Communication Association, establishing the mission, goals and directions of the association. This document represents a yearlong effort of the ECATF, and attempts to build upon broad-based interest in a professional association. The next phase of the strategic planning process is to seek community input on this document, and continue to develop and shape IECA, with the goal of launching IECA in June 2011. 7.1 Timeline for Implementation: October 2010: ● post strategic planning document on "Indications" blog; announce posting with link on ECN LISTSERV and request feedback/comments ● European Communication Conference (ECREA): discuss strategic planning document and recruit members for "launch team" November 2010: ● National Communication Association (NCA): open forum to discuss mission, scope, and roll-out of new association; recruit members for "launch team" January 2011 ● form a six-month "launch team" for the new association that will work on IECA by-laws and nomination/election process March 2011 ● launch team posts IECA by-laws ● call for nominations for officers May 2011 ● hold electronic election for officers (one idea: all subscribers to ECN LISTSERV eligible to vote for first slate of officers) June 2011

● formally launch new association and install officers at COCE ● formal membership dues and benefits take effect in 2012

December 2011: ● incorporate new association ● launch new web site ● start collecting dues 7.2 Benchmarking Success: Based on these goals, IECA will measure its success based upon progress toward the following objectives:
● ● ● ● ● ●

Raising the profile/visibility/legitimacy of the EC field; Facilitating practical applications of research; Promoting and facilitating the collaboration of scholars and practitioners; Supporting teaching, learning and practice; Increasing public engagement on environmental issues; Providing structural support for the EC websites, conferences and journals

Appendix A: Call for Participation
From: Mark Meisner <> Date: Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 11:52 AM Subject: [ECN] Call for Participants: Environmental Communication Association Task Force To: Call for Participants: Environmental Communication Association Task Force This is an invitation to interested individuals and organizations to join an ad hoc task force that will develop a proposal to form a new international professional association in Environmental Communication. We are asking for volunteers to serve on this Task Force, with a one-year commitment requested, starting on November 1, 2009. This initiative is supported by the following: * The Environmental Communication Network (ECN), represented by Mark Meisner * Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, represented by Steve Depoe * The Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE), represented by Stacey Sowards * The Science and Environment Communication Section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), represented by Anabela Carvalho and Julie Doyle * The Environment, Science and Risk Communication Working Group of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), represented by Anders Hansen In addition to those mentioned above, the following individuals have agreed to serve on the task force: * Libby Lester, University of Tasmania (Australia) * Laura Lindenfeld, University of Maine (USA) * Nadarajah Sriskandarajah, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Uppsala, Sweden) working on a European EC network * Chris Russill, Carleton University, (Canada) The task force activities will include: * examination of models for forming professional associations (AESS, IASNR, ASLE, other organizations) * development and execution of web-based survey to obtain ideas and suggestions from ECN subscribers and other interested parties * search for start-up funds and other resources for new association * drafting of an organization charter, mission, and bylaws * develop a system to obtain feedback and comments on the draft charter (WIKI, blog, etc.)

It is anticipated that the task force will hold an initial meeting during the upcoming NCA Convention in Chicago in November. During the NCA Convention, a facilitated "open space" meeting will be also held for anyone interested in contributing ideas to the project. Over the next year, the task force will communicate on a regular basis by e-mail, conference call, and possibly other means (e.g., online groupware). It will meet together in May to continue its work on the project (time and place TBA) and possibly July. Funding for those meetings will be obtained from a number of sources. The goal of this initiative is to develop a specific concept and framework for the new international professional association, which would launch in 2011. We are hoping that colleagues from around the world will join in this effort. If you are willing to serve on this task force, please contact Mark Meisner at by October 30.

Appendix B: Task Force Membership * contributed directly to the writing of this document Last Name *Ahern First Name Lee Current Position Penn State University, PA, USA Association (if any) Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Communicating Science, Health, Environment and Risk Interest Group (AEJMC, ComSHER Group)

Anderson *Carvalho

Alison Anabela

University of Plymouth, UK Universidade do Minho, Portugal ECREA - European Communication Research and Education Association

Chagutah Clark *Depoe

Tigere Joseph Steve

Heinrich Boell Foundation, Zimbabwe & South Africa Florida State University, Tallahassee FL, USA University of Cincinnati, USA Editor, Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture Science and Environment Communication Section (ECREA)



University of Brighton, UK

Egan Sjölander Flores *Good Hansen

Annika Jaime Manuel Jennifer Anders

Umeå university, Sweden Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines Brock University, Ontario, Canada University of Leicester, UK Founder and chair of the Environment Working Group, International Association for Media and Communication Researchers (IAMCR) Member of Australian and New Zealand



University of Tasmania, Australia

Communications Association, Journalism Education Association of Australia *Lindenfeld Mareck Meisner Laura Anne Mark University of Maine, USA Lexington, KY, USA State University of New YorkEnvironmental Science & Forestry, USA State University of New YorkEnvironmental Science & Forestry, USA Bridgewater College, Virginia, USA National Autonomous University of Mexico Member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Environmental Journalists Mexican Network (Red Mexicana de Periodistas Ambientales, REMPA). Past-Chair of Environmental Communication group for Western States Communication Association. Vice-Chair of the Environmental Communication Division for National Communication Association. Environmental Communication Network (ECN) Sustainability Solutions Initiative, COCE



Motta Nepote

Bernardo Ana Claudia (Ana) Todd


Washington State University, USA

Peeples *Peterson Plec Russill Sowards

Jennifer Nils Emily Chris Stacey

Utah State University, USA North Carolina State University, USA Western Oregon University, USA Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada University of Texas at El Paso, USA Conference on Communication and the Environment, Rare (Conservation) education program Unit of Environmental The Wildlife Society



Swedish University of



Agricultural Sciences

Communication, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Stanton *Todd Villaverde

Richard Anne Marie Héctor San Jose State University, USA Uruguay Capacity Building Centre for Regional Integration, Sustainable MERCOSUR Programme on Renewable Energies, Energy Efficiency and Climate Change)



University of Southern Maine, USA

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