I Believe in IECA: Where We've Been, Where We're Going
I believe in IECA.
As I end my tenure as the first chair of IECA, I want to take a look back and note how far we’ve come together over the past five years—from IECA as a concept and hope to IECA as a reality and a force for social change.
In 2008, IECA was just an idea—a belief that environmental communication scholars, practitioners , and activists from all over the world should get together formally to share resources and try to make a difference in local communities. The idea was shared in a couple of panels at two academic conferences—National Communication Association (NCA) in San Diego and European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) in Barcelona, and a movement was born.
In 2009, the 10th COCE conference was held in Portland, ME. At that conference, a group of folks volunteered to carry the idea of an international association forward by developing a potential structure.
In 2010, another group met, this time in Orono, ME, to form a draft set of by-laws and a plan to launch the new association through founding memberships and an initial board election.
In 2011, the IECA was formally launched. Over 300 individuals from 30 countries (along with 8 organizations) became founding members, and the first Board of Directors was elected. The Board held its first meeting at the 2011 COCE conference in El Paso, TX, at which time the conference, along with the journal ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNICATION, was officially moved under IECA direction. The site for the 2013 COCE conference was selected—in Uppsala, Sweden, bringing COCE outside the U. S. for the first time. IECA also launched its web site, and moved information from the former Environmental Communication Network (ECN) web site.
In 2012, 240 founding members renewed their membership. The IECA obtained tax-exempt status as a 501-c-3 non-profit organization in the US, allowing the association to apply for grants and accept donations. IECA also coordinated a successful search for a new editor for ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNICATION, Alison Anderson, who began transitioning into that role in the Fall. IECA also applied for—and received—its first grant, a $5000 award from NCA that would go toward supporting “greening” initiatives at the 2013 COCE. And, IECA held its first members-only election, and members chose a new Vice-Chair (Libby Lester) and new Board members (Stacey Sowards, Jen Schneider, Nadarajah Sriskandarajah) who will serve four-year terms.
In 2013, the IECA applied to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for status as a Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organization (RINGO), which would allow the organization to gain observer status at upcoming COP meetings. IECA Board members—with much input from you—also wrote and approved a Code of Ethics that will form the basis for significant programming and visibility for the association into the future. The 2013 COCE conference is featuring live streaming of some of its sessions—made possible because of the grant obtained by IECA. COCE 2013 promises to be the biggest and best COCE ever, thanks in large part to our great hosts in Sweden (led by the Environmental Communication Unit from Swedish Agricultural University ), as well as to IECA Executive Director Mark Meisner and the support of our association.
So, we’ve accomplished a lot in the past five years, moving IECA from an idea to a reality. Thanks to everyone who helped along the way.
The next few years for IECA will be critical to its survival. IECA needs financial support from its members—in the form of donations as well as annual memberships. Members can also help grow the organization by spreading the word to colleagues, friends, and neighbors about the value of joining and supporting IECA.
You have the passion for environmental communication. And now, through your professional organization, you have a vehicle to produce and disseminate scholarship and best practices to a global audience. Make the most of it—help IECA to accomplish great things. Become an IECA champion!
We’ve traveled a long way together, and I can’t wait to see where the journey takes us in the years ahead.
You see, I believe in IECA because I believe in you.