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Renewed Passion and Broader Perspectives: My Time as a Communicator-in-Residence

Published: 13 December 2023
Photo of Jenny Hansson

During October and November 2023, I had the honour of being part of the Mistra Environmental Communication (Mistra EC) programme as a Communicator-in-Residence. What's that? Well, neither the programme nor I really knew before.

When I’m not at SLU, I work at Lund University with research communication on climate and environmental science. The words are very similar to the core of Mistra EC - research, communication and environment - but in reality, I wasn't really familiar with the research programme.  The Communicator-in-Residence concept and the opportunity to delve into a realm closely aligned with my work yet largely unexplored was too exciting to resist.

The deal included two months of paid time in Mistra EC, with the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and a deeper understanding of the latest research. It was a chance to engage in meaningful knowledge exchange with researchers and practitioners across the landscape of environmental communication.

Summing up insights from this time cannot easily be done in a blog post. I take with me a wealth of insights, a broader perspective on environmental communication, and a renewed passion for working with sustainability communication. It has been rewarding to delve into and deconstruct concepts such as co-creation, transformation, sustainability, and circular economy. While these terms aren't new, the Mistra EC programme illuminated them in a fresh light for me, showcasing perspectives that extend beyond the commonly accepted narratives.

I have become more aware of the ambiguities and imbalances in many of the terms used in the sustainability debate. Those of us working on these issues need to be careful with words and open to discussions where different voices can be heard. It can also be about highlighting the unspoken. How can we facilitate more critical discussions about the transition to a sustainable world? I think more meta-discussions about communication are needed in everyday communication practice, and the time with the Mistra EC researchers has encouraged me to work on this more.

With my outside perspective, I also hope that I have been able to contribute with some additional perspectives on impact to the research programme. The themes explored are undeniably critical for steering society towards a more sustainable future, and there is a great need to discuss these topics in society. I really want to encourage researchers to stay engaged in the public debate and share their perspectives with the public.

It's been a true privilege to take part in the research, to have time for introspection and dialogue. I've also met the dedicated group of Masters students in environmental communication, and it was a highlight for me to organize a workshop on professional communication for them.

I appreciate the willingness of the research programme to explore new ways of sharing knowledge in the field of environmental communication. It has been a very rewarding time despite, or probably because of, Communicator-in-Residence being an untested concept. Thank you for having me!

Jenny Hansson

Jenny Hansson's CV and contact information at Lund University