Many Voices, One Planet text superimposed over picture of James Madison University

Call for Submissions

Many Voices, One Planet: Accounting for the past and narrating sustainable futures

The 17th Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE) June 5-9, 2023 James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA

 Download a PDF of this Call for Submissions

The International Environmental Communication Association (IECA) cordially invites you to the 17th biennial Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE 2023).

The conference is being hosted by the School of Communication Studies at James Madison University, located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley in Harrisonburg, VA, USA. The conference venue offers stunning views of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains, access to Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail, the George Washington National Forest, the Shenandoah River, local vineyards and breweries, and a variety of historic sites commemorating the rich and tragic history of the area.

About COCE

Since 1991, COCE has been the leading global conference on environmental communication. Our conferences always have a theme, but we also welcome non-thematic submissions in all areas of environmental communication research and practice. Moreover, COCE is not a typical academic conference. The IECA exists to promote stronger collaboration between researchers, practitioners and artists working in environmental communication and COCE is one of our key forums for fostering such connections.
COCE has been hybrid since 2013 (except for 2021 which was all online). Most participants join us in-person, but remote participation is an option. COCE 2023 will include a number of attractive features that have been hallmarks of COCEs past, and will also be responsive to contemporary options for interaction (face-to-face and virtual). Specifically, COCE 2023 will include:

  • A maximum of four concurrent sessions at any given time.
  • A mix of academic and practitioner-oriented panels and workshops, as well as a graduate student pre-conference.
  • An art exhibition and possibly performances.
  • A poster session running throughout the conference.
  • Plenary sessions to bring everyone together for keynote speakers and panels.
  • Audio and/or video recordings of all sessions available to in-person and virtual participants.
  • Online spaces that facilitate interaction between in-person and virtual participants.
  • Plenty of time for informal interactions, eating together, playing together, socializing and networking.
  • Organized excursions that take advantage of the wonderful variety of historical locations in the Harrisonburg area.
  • Affordable lodging options including on-campus residence rooms and a new on-campus hotel.

COCE is larger than when it started, but it has remained a casual and friendly event where you will meet new colleagues and re-connect with those you already know. Many people count COCE as their favourite conference.

Conference Theme

This year’s conference theme, “Many Voices, One Planet: Accounting for the Past and Narrating Sustainable Futures” refers to a world that is overrun with ecological crises, situated at the nexus of imagining a planet that could be while admitting the missteps that have been. As environmental communicators, it is our responsibility to listen to and work with many voices and storylines – both past and present – to create narratives that move us closer to a more sustainable and just future for humans and more-than-humans alike.

Many voices fight for our planet: scientists raise alarms of catastrophic events; local and indigenous communities defend their land, water, and traditions; activists demand swift and equitable climate action; journalists uncover toxic industrial practices; and the more-than-human world delivers many wake-up calls. Yet other voices confuse and manipulate: corporations  promote green-washed future-narratives, anti-environmental advocates  sow misinformation and divisiveness, and individualistic billionaires  exacerbate already unsustainable consumption levels. All of these voices claim to have our world’s best interests at heart, but making sense of the noise has become challenging, amplified by new technologies and a constantly changing, heavily digitized media environment.

Narrating sustainable futures requires that we acknowledge and address the errors and injustices of the past. Places and bodies keep score of coloniality, gender discrimination, and racial violence, yet too often, these wrongs are erased from environmental discussions. Individuals, communities, and organizations have sought new ways to account for the past, from diversifying school syllabi to marching for Black Lives to offering alternative artistic representations of historical figures. Across borders and timescales, memory has served as a gateway to progress rather than an impediment, reminding us that planetary redemption cannot paper over generations of racial, gender, economic, and cultural mistreatment. Environmental justice requires social justice.

Environmental communication researchers, teachers, practitioners, and artists are well-equipped to incorporate  past memories into new visions for the future. Our community includes a diversity of knowledges, skills, and media, all of which are attuned to a specific set of voices. This conference is our opportunity to listen to and work with these many storylines – both past and present – and chart narratives that move us closer to a more sustainable and equitable future for humans and more-than-humans alike.

With this conference theme, we want to explore and experience a variety of areas of environmental communication, such as:

  • Communicating environmental futures: Reflecting on frames of futurity or imaginaries; how are these influenced by the past and in what ways can we account for and reconcile past injustices? Imagining just and sustainable futures within planetary boundaries.
  • Many voices: Who speaks and who is listening? Reflecting on ways of listening to and respecting diverse perspectives, especially minorities, indigenous perspectives, and the-more-than-human-world.
  • Storying landscapes: Environmental communicators as storytellers of change - investigating methods of storytelling, making, and changing.
  • The role of eco-cultural identities, communities, commons, participation and engagement processes in narrating sustainable futures.
  • The past and future in strategic communication, including nonprofit-communication, political communication, and education for sustainability.
  • Reflecting on and shaping media and public discourses on sustainability narratives linking past and futures.
  • Considering the ethics and norms for individual, organizational, and societal action and communication about more sustainable futures. How are these articulated and how (much) are they already “normalized”, institutionalized and operationalized?
  • Rethinking environmental "fields" in order to move forward: Reflecting on environmental scholarship and the urgent need and possibilities for multidisciplinary, cross-disciplinary work.
  • Building coalitions: Imagining the possibilities of coalitional rhetorics and organizing practices to build bridges across differences and cultures.
  • Accountability: How can the purveyors of misinformation and greenwashing be held accountable? How can individuals, organizations, institutions, and governments account for their own errors, misdeeds, and injustices?

Submission Guidelines

We welcome submissions of all kinds of environmental communication work, whether it is related to the theme or not.

Submissions will be made using online forms available through the conference website starting September 5, 2022. Submitters will be asked to indicate if their submission is related to the theme. The submission deadline is October 3, 2022.

All submissions must:

  • Be written in English.
  • Be single-spaced.
  • Include a summary of up to 250 words for the programme.
  • Include up to five keywords.
  • Be formatted according to APA guidelines when including citations and a references list.
  • Contain no information identifying the author(s) in the main content (except for roundtable panels).

Please, no more than three submissions associated with any one person. That means as an author, co-author, panelist, etc.

At the time of submission we will ask if the presentation will be given live in person, or virtually. We do not yet know what system we will be using for virtual presentations, but most likely Zoom.

Scholarly Papers

Scholars, including students, are invited to share their original research. Scholarly paper submissions should be original works that emphasize contributions to knowledge.

  • Submit an extended abstract of 650-750 words that clearly explains context, research questions, methods, results, conclusions and contributions to knowledge. Scholars who write from an approach other than the social sciences should use a standard format appropriate for their discipline.
  • If you have citations, include a reference list, not footnotes (word count not included in the word limit).
  • Authors will have the choice of delivering their work in either poster or presentation format.
  • Authors of accepted submissions will be invited to submit a full paper by May 8, 2023. Full papers will be eligible to participate in the Top Paper Awards competition.

Practice Reflections

Practitioners of environmental communication are invited to share and reflect on their on-the-ground experiences. Practice reflections should be critical considerations by practitioners of their own projects and campaigns, and should emphasize effectiveness and applicability in other contexts.

  • Submit a self-reflective summary of 650-750 words on your project or campaign. The reflection should critically examine the goals, strategy, tactics, messages and results.
  • If you have citations, include a reference list, not footnotes (word count not included in the word limit).
  • Submissions should highlight effective advances in areas such as public engagement, social marketing, advocacy campaigns, engagement with the scientific community, etc. in environmental communication.
  • Authors will have the choice of delivering their work in either poster or presentation format.
  • Authors of accepted submissions will be invited to submit a full paper or campaign documentation or evaluation by May 8, 2023. These will be eligible to participate in the Top Paper Awards competition.

Artworks

Creatives, including (but not limited to) Indigenous artists, filmmakers, literary writers, theatre and performance-makers, designers, musicians, street artists, socially-engaged practitioners, curators, etc. are invited to share and reflect on their work.

Submissions of original artworks that critically respond to the conference theme are encouraged. Artworks will be considered for live and/or virtual exhibition and/or performance during the conference. Accepted artworks will be considered for the Outstanding Environmental Art Award.

Submissions should include:

  • An artist statement (max. 500 words) including how the artwork responds to the theme of the conference. If you have citations, include a reference list.
  • Artist biography (max. 200 words) or CV (max. 2 pages)
  • Supporting material including up to 10 images, 10 pages of written material (literary writing), or 10 minutes of video and/or audio recording.
  • Our preferred method of receiving supporting material is via URLs (web links).
  • You may submit up to three URLs, which can include video, audio, images, and written material. You can link to a specific page on your artist or organisation website displaying examples of your work. If you don’t have a website you can use Dropbox, Google Drive, Soundcloud (audio), Vimeo or YouTube (video).
  • An itemised and detailed description of audiovisual support material submitted (max. 1 page) including title, date, medium, dimensions, running time and/or format; and, if relevant, provide any special instructions for viewing or playing the material for the assessment.
  • Please provide any special considerations and/or preferences for the conference presentation if relevant.
  • Artists selected for the exhibition and/or performance will be required to submit their final artwork material by May 8, 2023.

Panels

Scholars, practitioners and artists are all invited to submit panel proposals. Panel submissions should focus on a unified topic. They can either be panels of scholarly papers, panels of practice reflections, panels of artists, a combination of those, or roundtable discussions. Keep in mind that panels must fit into 90-minute sessions.

  • Submit a descriptive panel proposal of up to 750 words, including a rationale for the panel.
  • If the panel includes distinct individual presentations (as opposed to more informal roundtable discussion panels), then each presentation must also be submitted separately by its main author, just like other stand-alone submissions. There will be a space in the submission form to indicate that the submission is part of a panel proposal and which panel the submission is attached to. These individual submissions are necessary for peer review and production of the programme.
  • For roundtable discussion panels, separate submissions are not necessary, but the panel submission should include the names and brief bios of the panelists as part of the descriptive proposal and all panelists should be included as authors of the panel.
  • If you have citations, include a reference list, not footnotes (word count not included in the word limit).

Workshops

Workshop submissions should focus on practical training in some area of environmental communication practice, scholarship, teaching, design, or artistic production. Workshops should normally fit into 90-minute sessions, but exceptions are possible. Generally speaking, workshops will be scheduled as pre-conference events.

  • Submit a description of the workshop of up to 1000 words, including time required, a rationale, and learning outcomes.
  • Submissions should explain clearly how attendees will participate, and must include a summary of activities, as well as the names and affiliations of all trainers.
  • If you have citations, include a reference list, not footnotes (word count not included in the word limit).

Submission and Review Process

All submissions, except workshops, will be reviewed anonymously and rated individually for their potential value to conference participants. Reviews will be based on overall quality, as well as the following criteria when appropriate: importance and relevance of topic; potential contribution to knowledge; useful synthesis of current knowledge; potential contribution to practice; creative innovation; clarity of presentation; and relevance to the conference theme.

  • Submissions are due by 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on October 3, 2022.
  • Submissions will be made using online forms, so have your submission ready to cut and paste into the various fields. Keep formatting to a minimum.
  • For artists uploading images, please ensure that any photos are optimized before creating the PDF to keep file sizes reasonable.
  • Instructions for making submissions will be provided on the COCE 2023 website: https://theieca.org/coce2023.
  • A maximum of three submissions can be associated with any one person, including as a co-author or panelist.
  • Submitters will be notified no later than December 5, 2022 if their submission has been accepted.
  • Full papers of scholarly paper submissions and full papers or other forms of campaign documentation or evaluation for practice reflections must be uploaded by May 8, 2023 in order to be considered for the Top Paper Awards.
  • Faculty members and practitioners are invited to volunteer to review submissions. Please contact Mark Meisner, IECA Executive Director: mark at theieca dot org.

Important Dates

Dates are subject to change.

  • June 15, 2022 – Theme announced and call for submissions distributed
  • September 5, 2022 – Online conference submission system available
  • October 3, 2022 – Deadline for all submissions
  • December 5 2022 – Acceptance notification
  • December 5, 2022 – Registration opens
  • December 12, 2022 – Draft programme available
  • December 12, 2022 to March 27 2023 – Programme revisions and corrections
  • January 30, 2023 – Presenters must be members of IECA
  • April 3, 2023 – Early-bird registration closes
  • April 10, 2023 – Presenters must be registered
  • May 8, 2023 – Papers and posters should be uploaded to the COCE website
  • May 8, 2023 – Programme finalized
  • June 5, 2023 – Pre-conference events (optional)
  • June 5, 2023 – Conference begins
  • June 9, 2023 – Conference ends

Important Things to Know

You don't need to be an IECA member to submit, but all conference presenters must be members of the IECA in 2023. So, you'll need to join by January 30, 2023 if your proposal is accepted. All members receive discounts on conference registration. Membership information can be found here: https://theieca.org/membership. We recommend joining in November 2022 to get the most from your membership benefits (two months of free membership).

To facilitate virtual participation from around the world, the conference organizers will take the time zones of the remote speakers into account when scheduling sessions. However, we can’t guarantee a convenient time for everyone.

About the IECA

Founded in 2011, but with roots going back to 1991, the International Environmental Communication Association (IECA) is a professional nexus of practitioners, artists, teachers, scholars, students, and organizations engaged in research and action to find more ethical and effective ways to communicate about environmental concerns to move society towards sustainability. Our mission is to foster effective and inspiring communication that alleviates environmental issues and conflicts, and solves the problems that cause them. More at https://theieca.org.

Web: https://theieca.org/coce2023
Twitter: @TheIECA  #coce2023
Email: coce2023 at theieca dot org

 

 Download a PDF of this Call for Submissions

 

Photo credits: James Madison University

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