PS 5-60 - Environmental Rhetoric and Communication Strategies

Monday, August 8, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Kimberly Gibson, School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

In this age of unchecked development, devastating pollution and rapid climate change ecologists hold a key role as informed environmental leaders. The effective communication of scientific findings and their implications to diverse audiences is crucial for widespread understanding and action on environmental issues. Through case studies of the rhetoric of leaders in ecology and environmental protection, this research seeks to identify strategies that contribute to successful communication.


As environmental leaders work to inspire action in diverse audiences, they must carefully craft their messages to ensure that optimism and urgency are balanced. Too much optimism makes the audience feel that the problem is not real, or to small to be worth acting upon. Too much urgency makes the audience feel helpless or even defensive. One strategy, the rhetoric of environmental relation, uses descriptions of the environment to connect the audience to their end goal and to reinforce doxa. These are important strategies for environmental leaders who seek to educate, inspire, and mobilize audiences to act on environmental crises.

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