The Environmental Communication and Management programme draws on an understanding of communication as the joint construction of meaning, through which not only knowledge, but also values, norms, experiences and practices are shared and negotiated. An understanding of communication as the core of social life is therefore crucial for understanding and facilitating social change – such as sustainability transformation processes.
The programme considers both environmental communication with and without a clearly defined purpose (e.g., information campaigns as well as conversations among friends and family over a coffee), and elucidates how communication in all its diversity (including non-verbal) shapes public discourses and, ultimately, action that can both enable and constrain social and environmental change.
The aim of this programme is twofold: First, to help students develop social-science based knowledge and skills for understanding and analysing environmental communication and its role in environmental management and governance. Second, to enable students to use these skills and knowledge to work with environmental communication related practices, particularly where these practices require communication between multiple and diverse actors. This could include organising collective action, preparing communication strategies, coordinating multi-stakeholder initiatives, designing and facilitating processes for public deliberation and managing conflicts.
After completing the programme, students are expected to be able to demonstrate theoretical, analytical and practical knowledge about communication processes within environmental management and governance. Students are expected to be able to apply this knowledge in different contexts such as nature conservation, forestry, food production, climate change, mining or urban planning. The programme provides the knowledge and skills required to work in Sweden or in other countries within public, private and non-governmental organisations as well as in research.
The programme includes experiential learning, critical analysis and reflection, and application of theory. Theoretical and practical components of courses are interwoven in teaching activities including experience-based workshops, case study investigations, group projects and reflective assignments.
Course content and interdisciplinary teaching staff offer a wide range of theories and experiences. Programme flexibility and course design allow students to follow their own interests and develop a focus on different aspects of environmental communication and management in Sweden or other countries, through course assignments, an internship or thesis work.
Students will progressively develop an understanding of communication as mechanisms that can both foster and impede change towards increased sustainability, and of communication as the foundation of social and cultural processes, including the formation of social norms and power structures which, again, both enable and constrain social and environmental change.
The programme begins by introducing diverse theoretical perspectives for understanding environmental communication as it occurs in everyday life, including casual conversations, environmental campaigns and policies, as well as in multi-stakeholder decision-making.
Practical components are integrated into these theoretical sections. These components involve the production of visual communication artefacts and the facilitation of dialogue processes. Later in the programme, these theories and practices are further developed by engaging a variety of theoretical perspectives on communication and their relationships to different models for developing communication strategies.
The programme continues by focusing on constructive and destructive aspects of conflicts, democratic approaches to conflict management and facilitation of deliberative processes. Students explore these topics in the analysis of real-world cases from Sweden and other countries and suggest ways to facilitate inclusive multi-stakeholder processes.
Students also engage critically with environmental governance and develop in-depth insights into how governance plays out in practice. They do this by investigating, assessing and suggesting improvements to ongoing environmental governance practices in Sweden or other countries, based on different theoretical perspectives and interaction with actors involved in these cases.
During the second year of the programme, students are able to participate in a placement in an organisation working with environmental communication or related practices. Students must arrange the placement themselves. In preparation of the thesis work, students learn about and practise the skills required for research within the area of environmental communication. This includes learning about different approaches to research, data collection and analysis as well as academic writing.
Elective courses are available to students who do not participate in a placement. Alternatively, exchange programmes are available at universities abroad, and students may take courses relevant to their own area of interest within environmental communication and related practices in other programmes at SLU or other Swedish universities.
The programme concludes with an independent project in which students research a phenomenon or practice related to environmental communication and management, based on their own interests and with the opportunity to connect the work of ongoing research themes and projects at SLU.
Visit the student pages to find out more and read the syllabus.