About Mistra Environmental Communication

Last changed: 08 September 2021

This four-year research programme aims to reframe environmental communication, i.e., to mainstream an advanced and inclusive understanding of environmental communication in research, policy and practice such that it can effectively underpin and foster sustainability transformations.

A transdisciplinary approach

The programme draws on a transdisciplinary approach that involves researchers from a range of disciplinary back-grounds as well as non-academic partners representing crucial actors in wider society to harness existing thinking, co-develop new insights and approaches and translate these into communication practice.

Our goal is to shape how communication is understood and done in Sweden and internationally
– Anke Fischer, Programme Director

Five crucial principles

The following five principles will be crucial ingredients in a reframed approach to environmental communication:

  1. Understanding environmental communication as multimodal and multilateral rather than as linear diffusion of (expert) knowledge, and as performed not only by scientists or government experts but by a multitude of actors in all societal fields
  2. Considering both the instrumental and constitutive aspects of communication – this implies that environmental communication can take place with a purpose (e.g., through information campaigns) and without one (e.g., over a coffee among friends and family), and that both these aspects shape public discourses and, ultimately, action
  3. Understanding environmental communication as a field of discursive struggle, and sustainability as an inherently contested concept
  4. Complementing sustainability transformation approaches that target individuals with approaches that foreground the social practices and structures that produce environmental problems
  5. Taking account of the role of power and conflict in knowledge production and communication processes, rather than viewing knowledge as neutral or objective

Five major fields of environmental communication practice

Mistra Environmental Communication addresses five major fields of environmental communication practice. These include:

Five circles with illustrations around different research projects, illustration.

We want to mainstream a broader understanding that takes into account the different roles of and interactions between actors in communication,  and that includes, for example, artists, land users and the wider public. 
– Eva Friman, Programme Director

These five areas form the basis of Mistra Environmental Communication's research structure. They are complemented by cross-cutting work packages and think/do tanks that synthesise, add value, apply lessons learned to specific organisational contexts, and scale out. Read more about the joint work and synthesis here.

Programme vision

The vision of MISTRA Environmental Communication is that by 2030, effective environmental communication practices will underpin Sweden’s transformation to a more sustainable society, acting as an internationally recognised model of critical and change-oriented communication that is socially legitimised and inclusive. This is the result of a strong collaborative approach, scaling out from MISTRA EC as a hub from the regional to national and international levels.

Facts:

The programme is hosted by SLU and involves academics at SLU, Uppsala University, Lund University, Borås University, the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, Charles University Prague, and the University of Texas at Austin. Importantly, the consortium also includes 28 societal partners, covering a wide range of environmental and sustainability concerns and perspectives – from climate action to nature conservation, hunting and agriculture, and from the local to the national and international level.

The programme builds on the well-established research and teaching expertise at SLU’s Division of Environmental Communication, and on SWEDESD’s (Sustainability Learning and Research Center) international work on education for sustainable development.

Programme Directors are Anke Fischer, professor in Environmental Communication at SLU and Eva Friman, Director of SWEDESD.

Read about the programme board here.

Programme plan to Mistra (pdf)


Contact

Portrait photo of a woman, photo.Anke Fischer

Programme co-director
Professor in Environmental Communication
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Division of Environmental Communication, Department of Urban and Rural Development
Uppsala, Sweden

Telephone: +46 (0)18 67 35 56
E-mail: anke.fischer@slu.se
Read more on Anke Fischer's CV page

Black and white portrait photo of a woman, photo.Eva Friman

Programme co-director
Director of
SWEDESD – Sustainability Learning and Research Center
Uppsala University

Telephone: +46 (0)701679174
E-mail: eva.friman@swedesd.uu.se
Read more on Eva Friman's CV page

Page editor: maria.arpe@slu.se