IECA Strategic Plan

September 2020

Prepared by the IECA Strategic Planning Committee: Samantha Senda-Cook, Chair; Eric Morgan, Facilitator; Members: Tadesse Sahilu, Leonor Solis, Clive Tesar, Anke Wonneberger, and Mark Meisner (ex officio)

By drafting a strategic plan, the leadership of the IECA hoped to codify guiding principles that have been a mainstay of our organization since the beginning. Additionally, we wanted to emphasize some goals to a higher priority status. For example, goal three encourages us to increase diversity, which reflects broader global calls for justice. Making these goals explicit not only positions our organization as part of a concerted effort toward doing good in the world, it also offers a road map for the IECA. We treated this as an opportunity for reflection about the first 10 years of our organization as well as a statement about our shared hope for our future.

This strategic plan was born out of a general member meeting with the IECA board in Vancouver in June of 2019. We first formed a steering committee to appoint committee members. Once formed around September of 2019, the Strategic Planning Committee met to agree on a process, brainstorm values, and reflect on the state of the environment and communication. Each member brought ideas for goals, which we then added to with objectives and actions for each. In December of 2019, the IECA board approved the draft goals and we continued our work to clarify them, thinking critically about the implications for each. By March of 2020, we had a strong draft of a plan and thought it was time to get feedback from IECA members. So, we sent that out and extended the deadline for replying by several weeks to accommodate the extra work that many of us were facing at the time. Over the summer of 2020, the Strategic Planning Committee revised the document, given the feedback from members, and continued to refine with an eye toward implementation. We then sought approval from the IECA board. This strategic plan does not represent the end of a process but rather somewhere along the middle. We hope that the IECA Board will revisit this plan often and update it in the coming years.

Woman holding a compassGoal One: Create new and strengthen existing connections among practitioners, artists, and academics.

Rationale: One of the foundational strengths of the IECA is its interconnectivity. With this goal, we hope to expand on that by continuing our tradition as a bridge organization between different worlds. While people approach environmental communication from different angles, we recognize the value in connecting disparate positions.

Objectives and Actions (Timeline in parentheses): 

1.1 Enhance networking opportunities among practitioners, artists, and academics.

  1. Potential hosts for COCE will be asked to articulate as a priority how they will foster connections, and this will be part of the explicit mandate of each COCE conference committee (COCE 2021).
  2. Institute a procedure for helping members find collaborators (membership registration, 2021).
  3. Special issue or sub-section of the journal focused on artist and/or practitioner-led environmental communication, and prioritizing artist and/or practitioner lead authors (consult Shirley Ho, journal editor, by 2021).
  4. Create a task force for arts-based pedagogy (consult the facilitator of the Teaching Fellows, by 2021).

1.2 Develop funding opportunities for collaboration among practitioners, artists, and academics. 

  1. Establish a small grant initiative to fund these collaborations (development committee, charge this committee with this task, 2020).
  2. Facilitate collaborations for (international) research grants (development committee, charge this committee with this task, 2020).
  3. Develop a list of potential granting agencies and organizations that may foster such collaborations (Development Committee, charge this committee with this task, 2020).
  4. Create opportunities and procedures for the award of stipends to support collaborative projects, research, and scholarship involving collaborators from different backgrounds (contingent on securing funding, 2025).

1.3 Increase recruitment of membership from practitioners and artists. 

  1. Audit current membership in terms of how members identify primarily (membership registration, 2020).
  2. Sponsor attendance at conferences or other meetings where practitioners and artists may be present (COCE 2021).
  3. Encourage existing members to connect with local artist groups and local environmental groups as representing the IECA and develop outreach materials targeted at these communities (consult with Nancy Van Leuven, chair of the Outreach Committee, 2022).
  4. Survey the membership for ideas about how member activities might benefit from collaboration (2023).

1.4 Brand IECA as an academic and communication arena that can contribute to international policy dialogues and grassroots practitioner-based implementations.

  1. Support existing (e.g., RINGO observer of UNFCCC) and future affiliations with resources (Development Committee, charge this committee with this task, 2020).

Possible KPIs: 

Secure external funding from at least one source by 2023.

See at least one publication (e.g., journal article, gallery opening, community workshop materials) from IECA-supported/sponsored/inspired collaborators.

Goal Two: Enable action geared toward positive environmental policies and changes.

Rationale: In addition to being an organization for practitioners, artists, and academics, we also thought it was worthwhile to direct some of our activities to engaging in policy discussions with other organizations. . This may be our most challenging goal to implement, but we thought it was time to grow as an organization and build on some of our fledgling efforts in this realm.

Objectives and Actions (Timeline in parentheses):

2.1 Collate/create easily findable instrumental materials for various methods of fomenting pro-environmental change on the personal, community, governmental, and international level.

  1. Organize an action committee of volunteers or apply for a grant to pay experts to read through linked websites and journals (decision on strategy in 2020).
  2. Organize these materials and make them accessible to members; contribute to our EC Talking Points and our Talk Eco site (first output in 2021).
  3. At COCE, facilitate half-day or full-day workshops on pro-environmental change. The idea for members is that after this workshop, they can share in their countries or region, the same workshops adapted to local realities as a collective activity of the association. They, in turn, invite in local/nearby environmental groups in their home communities for the same workshops (starting at COCE 2021; first local workshops in 2022)
  4. Collect best-practice materials based on the experiences of workshop participants. Share them via our website and newsletter (first output in 2022)

2.2 Form a group of experts that can play a role as political advisors and make themselves available in case the IECA is required to attend or participate in international negotiations or to advise the formation of new policies.

  1. Establish  a pool of experts in different areas of EC (2021)
  2. Develop brief and succinct case studies, contributed by members; host case studies or position papers on our website (2022)

2.3 Engage IECA to areas where practitioners, artists and academia influence international policy dialogues, bring change at local levels and solicit funding for these processes

  1. Establish a travel budget for a representative to attend relevant international policy dialogue forums that the IECA board agrees and create connections with practitioners, artists, academia as well as donors that support IECA with this regard (Development Committee, charge this committee with this task, 2020).
  2. Promote COCE at the above arenas so as to attract more members (Development Committee, charge this committee with this task, 2020).

Possible KPIs:

Increase in local workshops organized by participants organized, demonstrated through a follow-up survey

Goal Three: Foster diversity and inclusion (specifically in terms of geography, socio-economics, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, discipline, and career trajectory) within environmental communication.

Rationale: By definition this organization is motivated and strengthened by diversity; this goal represents a recommitment to our core. In some areas of diversity (e.g., geography, career path), we can track how representative we are because we have collected data through memberships. For some of these categories, we have never collected data because it would be strange to reveal your sexual orientation, for example, when completing your membership renewal for us. But we are committed to figuring out the right way forward to be as inclusive as we can be.

Objectives and Actions (Timeline in parentheses): 

3.1 Increase cultural and disciplinary diversity among members as well as visibility of diversity in membership, research approaches and areas of practice.

  1. Offer free memberships (by application, with some criteria) to support individuals from underrepresented areas within IECA (2021).
  2. Create a Diversity Committee as a sub-committee of the Outreach Committee,which is tasked with:
    1. Surveying members about the climate of IECA with respect to diversity and inclusion.
    2. Analyze survey data and propose changes needed to support IECA members.
    3. Drafting a Diversity and Inclusion Statement to be passed by IECA. This document should:
      1. Define diversity and inclusion for IECA.
      2. Identify goals based on organizational needs and results from the climate survey for making IECA more diverse and inclusive.
    4. Create an implementation plan and timeline for those goals.
  3. Identify ways to expand the organization’s network, for instance, recruiting and supporting representatives for underrepresented areas (for instance, focusing on most vulnerable countries). 

3.2 Foster dialogue, exchange, and collaboration between different areas and approaches

  1. Promoting not just diversity but also accountability and equity within our organization by establishing a baseline of multiple categories (Membership registration, 2020)
  2. Propose ways to increase the visibility of diversity and diversity efforts: for instance, special journal issues or conference panels on regional themes, methodological innovations, etc. (2023).

3.3 Raise money to support direct diversity initiatives. Funds could be used for travel grants for the conference, scholarships for the course, further membership discounts for lower income country members, etc. (Development Committee, charge this committee with this task, 2020).

  1. Change bylaws to make sure that no future boards can invest any funds in anti-environmentalist industries (e.g., oil and gas, etc.).

Possible KPIs:

Number of free memberships and criteria for selecting members for free membership  

Secure at least one external funding source to support travel grants

Photo by Ali Kazal on Unsplash