CFP: Communication and Sustainability: Exploring Intersections of Science, Policy, Action, and Culture

Call for Manuscripts for a Special Issue of Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture Volume 5, Issue 1 (2012)

Communication and Sustainability: Exploring Intersections of Science, Policy, Action, and Culture

Editors: Harald Heinrichs (Leuphana Universität Lüneburg) and Laura Lindenfeld (University of Maine)

This special issue emerges from the perspective that communication research and practice should play a more prominent role in sustainability science. The collection of essays will consider the ways in which communication scholarship and practice can and should contribute to sustainability science as part of larger global sustainable development efforts.


Cox’s articulation of environmental communication as a crisis discipline recognizes the constitutive and normative role of communication in the definition of environmental problems, and it provides an ethical basis for recognizing, predicting, and addressing environmental problems (2007). As such, this articulation calls for different ways of thinking about and doing communication. Cox’s call to action suggests a model for environmental communication that features innovative linkages between research and practice as well as increased collaboration with other fields. Whether defined as the process of linking the production of knowledge with action, collaborative learning, or the co-construction of knowledge, this approach to environmental communication scholarship aims to render the research process more salient, legitimate, and credible to stakeholders and communities who require research for decision making.

Sustainability science is an emerging trans-disciplinary area that draws upon similar assumptions about the criticality of action-oriented scholarship in addressing global environmental concerns and their linkages to social and economic activities, as well as the need to bring scholars, communities, and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds together. Part of a larger sustainability studies project, sustainability science aims to develop, shape, and maintain resilient ecological, economic, and social systems through an inter- and trans-disciplinary, action-oriented approach to research and praxis (see, for example, issues of the new journal Sustainability Science, published by Springer).

The goals of sustainability science converge with the type of practice-oriented research that many environmental communication scholars do. Yet, communication as a field has often been underrepresented in sustainability science research teams and programs around the world. This special issue provides an opportunity to make a case for the centrality of environmental communication in advancing – and, when needed, in critiquing – sustainability science and the global sustainability studies initiative.


This call for papers seeks empirically and critically focused essays as well as conceptual papers that build on the concept of environmental communication as a crisis discipline and a solutions-oriented, reflexive discipline crisis framework by exploring a variety of topics, including:

• The various roles communication plays and should play within sustainability studies and sustainability science, e.g.:
a. Communication in complex interdisciplinary collaboration
b. Communication in the production of knowledge about sustainability as a process of co-construction by communities and universities
c. Communication in the analysis of sustainability science solutions to local and global environmental/sustainability issues and concerns

• The various roles communication plays and might play within sustainability practice, e.g.:
d. (new) media communication on sustainability,
e. sustainability marketing,
f. political communication on sustainability
g. communication in formal and informal education for sustainability
h. (Interpersonal) Communication in participation and cooperation for sustainability

• Critiques of communication research and practice in sustainability science and sustainability practice

Manuscripts should be prepared in English, and should not exceed 8,000 words including references. We are prepared to offer additional editorial assistance for manuscripts that examine the intersection of sustainability and communication in non-English speaking regions. The journal adheres to APA Style. Manuscripts must not be under review elsewhere or have appeared in any other published form. For further details on manuscript submission, please refer to the ‘Instructions for authors’ on the journal’s website ( Upon notification of acceptance, authors must assign copyright to Taylor and Francis and provide copyright clearance for any copyrighted material.
Manuscripts should be emailed to by March 31, 2011.

Please disseminate this CFP to any colleagues who might be interested.

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About Mark Meisner

Executive Director of the International Environmental Communication Association (IECA). I also research, teach, write about, and speak on environmental and sustainability communication, media, culture, and policy. Facts are usually facts, but opinions and sense of humour are always my own.
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