Call for Papers: Across Borders and Environments: The 11th Biennial Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE)

Saturday, June 25 – Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On the Border in El Paso, Texas USA

Stacey Sowards, Conference Director,

Sponsored by: Department of Communication, University of Texas at El Paso


UTEP’s campus and Franklin Mountains

UTEP’s campus and Franklin Mountains

The Conference on Communication and the Environment started in 1991, and has been held every other year since then. COCE is associated with the Environmental Communication Network, although there is no official organization that sponsors COCE. The 11th biennial COCE’s theme will be “Across Borders and Environments: Communication and Environmental Justice in International Contexts.” Given El Paso’s strategic location on the U.S. – Mexico border, this conference theme is particularly topical. Recent discussions about internationalizing the environmental communication discipline are also relevant in the border area, as El Paso and Ciudad Juárez work together to address international environmental issues such as water shortages and air pollution for their combined populations of over 2.5 million people in one of the largest bi-national metropolitan areas in the world.

The importance of communicating about and for environmental justice issues in national and international contexts is increasingly important in the 21st century. The purpose of the conference then, is to address how environmental communication scholars and practitioners address and understand such issues in the United States and in other countries. Although the conference will take place on the borderlands between the United States and Mexico, the conference theme is open to broader interpretations of borderlands, environmental justice, and international issues in environmental communication. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Theoretical discussions related to environmental justice issues
  • Analysis of specific environmental justice cases or issues
  • Representations of environmental justice issues in media contexts
  • Global environmentalism in local contexts
  • Postcolonial analyses of environmental problems or organizations
  • Border issues related to environmental communication

Conference activities will include a tour of locations in El Paso related to the conference theme, including locations along the Río Grande/Río Bravo.

To maximize participation from EC scholars, students, and practitioners from various countries and locations, paper topics and panels can also address a wider range of topics beyond the conference theme. International participants and graduate students are especially encouraged to submit paper or panel proposals.


Types of Submissions:

1. Completed papers should be submitted with a separate cover page that includes the title of the manuscript, the author’s name and affiliation, and contact information. A second separate page should include the title and a one paragraph abstract of a maximum of 200 words. Manuscripts should be typed and double-spaced with end notes, references, tables, and figures on separate sheets immediately following the text. Manuscripts should be no longer than 7,500 words or 25 pages (including text, footnotes, and references in APA format), and must be free of author identification. Because papers may be selected for the conference proceedings, all papers should follow the submission template that can be found on the conference website, COCE at UTEP. If accepted, you should submit a final version of the paper to the panel’s respondent by June 1, 2011. All papers must be written in the English language.

2. Panel proposals must include: a 100-150 word rationale for the panel and a 100-150 word abstract of each paper or for each participant’s contributions, along with a commitment of each participant to attend the conference if the panel is accepted. Any panel that involves a respondent must include a rationale for including a respondent. The conference organizer also reserves the right to discuss with panel organizers the possibility of adding authors/papers in the event that panelists cannot attend and/or submitted papers fit with the panel theme sufficiently. A separate cover page should list the panel organizer and all authors/participants and their affiliations.

3. Alternative “panel” ideas are also welcome for submission, following the general guidelines in #2. Some possibilities:

  • Alternative formats, such as an evening garden chat centered on a particular theme.
  • Themes that do not fit into a traditional academic format, such as practitioner issues and experiences.
  • Languages besides English: To help internationalize the field of environmental communication, panels might also be in other languages. Some assistance with translation may be provided by the conference organizers, depending on the language. Panel proposals may be submitted in English, Spanish, Indonesian, Mandarin, French, or Portuguese.
  • Live streaming possibilities: UTEP will be able to offer some of the conference activities via live streaming, provided that there is interest. A panel might be submitted that would include live streaming from another location in which conference attendees could participate at the UTEP campus, and vice versa.
  • Other ideas for alternative panels are also welcome.

Submission process:

Papers or panel proposals should be submitted to the conference website at: COCE at UTEP.

Papers and panel proposals should be submitted in PDF or Microsoft Word following the template provided on the conference website.

Author identification should be removed for all proposals and papers.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011 by midnight, Mountain Standard Time (USA)

Authors of panels and papers will be notified of acceptance/rejection by April 1, 2011


The 2011 Conference on Communication and the Environment will release the Conference proceedings as an electronic document. The document will be available as a PDF on the Environmental Communication Network website. Authors of completed papers related to the conference theme may also be invited to submit their essays for consideration for a special issue of Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture.


The conference will be held on the University of Texas at El Paso campus. UTEP has over 21,000 students, and is well-known for its desert location and gardens, unique Bhutanese style architecture, and view of Ciudad Juárez from the campus. For more information about UTEP, see: UTEP’s Department of Communication will host the conference and will invite members from its master’s communication program (in partnership with Rare, a non-governmental environmental organization) in Indonesia, China, and Mexico to participate in this conference to include more international perspectives on environmental issues. In an attempt to put into practice the concept of environmental protection and sustainability, we will be taking measures to ensure that the conference is as “green” as possible.

The El Paso International Airport is 15 minutes from the campus and is serviced by many major airlines, including Southwest, American, Delta, United, Continental, and US Airways. Accommodations will be available at the UTEP dormitories and UTEP’s on-campus hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn.

Conference registration fees are necessary to subsidize the costs for meeting rooms, audiovisual support, registration, honorariums, set-up & breakdown, proceeding preparation, and meals (e.g., opening conference reception and dinner, breakfasts, coffee and snacks, and lunches), but expenses are reduced for student participants. Please indicate any dietary restrictions when registering for the conference.

US$150.00 — Early registration (if you register by May 1, 2011)
US$225.00 — between May 2, 2011 and June 10, 2011
US$300.00 – On-site registration (day of the conference)

US$100.00 — Early registration (if you register by May 1, 2011)
US$150.00 — between May 2, 2011 and June 10, 2011
US$200.00 – On-site registration (day of the conference)

Optional: Border tour along the Río Grande/Río Bravo area, add $20 per person

Deadline to register for the border tour is June 10, 2011

Register at: COCE at UTEP

Contact: Information about environmental communication in general and conference updates, accommodations, and logistics can be found at the Environmental Communication Network’s website: and the conference registration site. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact Stacey Sowards, the conference host, at

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About Mark S. 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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