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:
- 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
- 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
- Understanding environmental communication as a field of discursive struggle, and sustainability as an inherently contested concept
- Complementing sustainability transformation approaches that target individuals with approaches that foreground the social practices and structures that produce environmental problems
- 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:
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.
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.