Media & News

Temporary Working Group: Environmental Communication

During NeFCA’s general assembly at the Etmaal 2024, Environmental Communication was approved as a new NeFCA temporary working group (TWG). The steering committee of this TWG consists of Sophie Boerman (chair), Marijn Meijers (vice-chair), Veroline Cauberghe and Anke Wonneberger. PhD representatives are Barbara Behre, Estefanya Vazquez and Ibe Delvaux. Over 50 scholars in the Netherlands and Flanders endorsed the proposal for the TWG.

 

The consequences and challenges related to climate change and other environmental threats, such as biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, and ocean acidification, become ever more pressing. Communication plays a key role for public awareness and understanding, as well as the development and implementation of solutions on all levels. The field of environmental communication therefore plays a crucial role in disseminating accurate information, fostering public understanding, and inspiring meaningful change. 

 

The temporary working group (TWG) on Environmental Communication brings together research and insights on environmental communication and behavior from various perspectives. One of our aims is to seek out synergies by bridging the different strands within Communication Science.

The Science of Climate Conversations  –  ECoLab Lecture by Dr. Joshua Ettinger (January 2024).

Conversations about climate change are important for mobilizing climate action, as well as for processing emotions and finding meaning in times of crisis. However, limited empirical guidance exists on how to successfully facilitate these discussions among diverse individuals and measure their impacts. In this talk, Dr. Joshua Ettinger will offer insights from his recent PhD research at the University of Oxford on the opportunities and challenges of climate conversations, particularly in the context of extreme weather events. 

About the Speaker: 

Dr. Joshua Ettinger is a postdoctoral research fellow at Center for Climate Change Communication (4C), George Mason University. His main research interests include climate change communication, environmental psychology, extreme weather events, science communication and storytelling/narratives. 

Planet B? Exploring the Implications of Environmental Digital Twins for Conservation – ECoLab Lecture by Dr. Danny Pimentel (September 2023).

As the conservationist rallying cry states, “There is no Planet B”…or is there? Digital twin technology is rapidly enabling the creation of 3D replicas of the natural world, from interactive 3D models of wildlife to complete recreations of entire forests. When paired with augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) digital twins come to life, facilitating human-nature interactions that are otherwise out of reach or impossible to facilitate in the real world. In this talk I will review ongoing industry and academic work involving the creation, application, and evaluation of environmental digital twins in the context of biodiversity conservation. Audiences will leave with a greater understanding of the science behind why digital twins can be an effective environmental storytelling tool, as well as practical insight into its strategic use in environmental communication.

About the speaker:

Dr. Danny Pimentel received his PhD in Communications at the University of Florida (USA) in 2020. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Immersive Media Psychology and an Environment Initiative/Sustainability Fellow at the University of Oregon, as well as a Public Voices Fellow at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the Op-Ed Project. Danny co-directs the Oregon Reality Lab (OR Lab) where he develops and evaluates spatial computing applications (AR/VR) to advance sustainable development goals. Danny’s work has been published in reputed journals (e.g., Nature Scientific Reports) and conferences (e.g., IEEEVR). As a developer, Danny’s spatial computing applications have been supported by organizations like National Geographic, Unity 3D, The Tides Foundation, Snap Inc. and The Sea Turtle Conservancy. His projects have also received awards from Games for Change, Meta, IEEE, and Snapchat.

 

Christel van Eck receives NWO Veni grant

The boundaries of climate activism by scientists

Academics are increasingly sounding the alarm about climate change, for example by participating in disruptive climate actions. This project looks at how the boundaries of academics’ communication to the public shift during crises and whether this is desirable for science’s authority. It examines where both academics and the public draw the line of academics’ public communication and the effects of various communication strategies on science’s authority and climate action. Overall, the research reveals the boundaries of academics’ communication in the climate crisis and provides evidence-based communication strategies for academics to engage the public with climate change, whilst safeguarding science’s authority.

Zeph van Berlo, Hande Sungur & Marijn Meijers at SPUI 25: On Virtual Reality for Environmental Behavior Change. (June 2023)

With Virtual Reality, what feels distant can be brought very close. For example, the impact that our consumption of food and plastic has elsewhere in the world or in the future. Virtual Reality, therefore, has the potential to reduce the ‘psychological distance’ that many people experience from the consequences of their behavior. During this event, we discuss how sustainable behavior can be stimulated with VR see: https://spui25.nl/programma/een-ver-van-mijn-bedshow-over-virtual-reality-en-het-beinvloeden-van-gedrag

Christel van Eck at SPUI 25: Climate Change and Academia: What Role to Play? (April 2023)

Christel took part in a panel discussion regarding questions like: What is the role of academics in confronting the climate crisis?  and Do academics have a special responsibility to get involved in climate justice activism? were discussed. for more info, see: https://spui25.nl/programma/climate-change-and-academia-what-role-to-play  

Ariadne Neureiter visits ECoLab as PhD candidate 

Curious about her experience? Read her story below!

Research Visit: Personal Experiences by Ariadne Neureiter

 

Between March 21, 2023, and April 18, 2023, I was a visiting researcher at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR; Corporate Communication) and the ECo-Lab with Anke Wonneberger.

In addition to individual appointments with members of the ECo-Lab, where we discussed studies (my dissertation studies, their present research, and possible future joint studies), I was invited to several research talks and events of the department. For instance, I attended the ECo-Lab conference, where several researchers in the field of environmental communication gave insight into their research topic and interest and had the chance to connect thematically. Additionally, I was invited to a team meeting at the ECo-Lab, where I presented my dissertation studies. This was followed by a detailed discussion and a lively scientific exchange, which gave me a lot of new scientific input and showed new thought-provoking perspectives regarding my Ph.D. topic (see also the pictures above).

Throughout my research visit, I was very well integrated into the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) and the ECo-Lab, both academically and socially. This enabled professional exchange and methodological and theoretical advice from experienced colleagues. Being a visiting researcher at the ASCoR and the ECo-Lab was a pleasure! Thank you for the interesting, exciting, and enormously enjoyable stay!

 

Ariadne Neureiter is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Communication of the University of Vienna in Austria (Advertising and Media Psychology Research Group; AdMe). She studied communication science and psychology at the University of Vienna and the University of Graz and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Vienna in December 2023. Her research focuses on strategic environmental communication, information processing strategies, and the effects of green advertising and greenwashing.

ECoLab researchers Jeroen & Christel present their research at VPRO Tegenlicht Meet-up x Sustainalab: (March, 2023). How does the Dutch general public view climate change and the energy transition? Jeroen and Christel presented their survey research, in which they identified five distinct audience segments. The VPRO Tegenlicht Meet-up was focused on the Dutch energy transition. With Christel W. van Eck, Jeroen G.F. Jonkman, & Christian Burgers.

Sophie C. Boerman receives NWO XS research grant

The potential of social media influencers to promote sustainable consumption patterns

To combat climate change and its consequences, it is vital that people change their behaviour and consume less. This project aims to explore the potential of social media influencers to promote sustainable consumption patterns amongst young adults (18-25 years old). First, a content analysis of influencer content aims to gain insights into the proportion of commercial vs. eco-content and the way influencers communicate about climate change, consumption, and sustainability. Second, an online experiment with 3 waves aims to understand which messages impact young adults’ climate change awareness, materialism, and consumption patterns, in the short- and long-term.

Marijn H. C. Meijers receives NWO XS research grant

Let’s talk about climate change: Using virtual reality and a social network approach to stimulate climate change conversations

Individuals play an important role in mitigating climate change by adopting climate friendly behavior and by engaging in interpersonal communication (i.e., conversations) regarding climate change. However, little is known about how to stimulate climate change conversations. The current project therefore investigates whether a virtual reality environment can kickstart climate change conversations. Furthermore, it is investigated to what extent such conversations and climate friendly behavior impact each other over time. Whereas most studies into climate change behavior change take an individualistic approach, I will take a social network approach as this is more suitable for collective problems such as climate change.

ECoLab Kick-off meeting (June, 2022).

 

To officially kick off our ECoLab initiative, we held a hybrid symposium regarding Environmental Communication. Prof. dr. Bruno Takahashi (Associate Professor and Research Director, Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University) was our guest speaker and gave a talk about “Minoritized and marginalized groups in environmental communication research.”

 

Furthermore, dr. Christel van Eck gave a presentation on “The next generation of climate scientists as science communicators” and dr. Sophie Boerman presented research on “The importance of influencer-message congruence for greenfluencers.”

EcoLab researchers taking part in the UvA/HvA Green Weeks with a virtual reality experience. (May, 2022). Can VR decrease psychological distance to climate change? To investigate this, a team of ECoLab members took part in the UvA/HvA Green Weeks, having participants experience a 360 degree video on the effects of climate change on islands in the Philippines.  With Marijn H. C. Meijers, Zeph M. C. van BerloHande Sungur, & Priska L. Breves

ECoLab researchers pitching at the sustainability and health symposium, a collaboration between the FMG and the RIVM (April 2022). With pitches from Anke WonnebergerMarijn H. C. Meijers, & Sophie C. Boerman