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

Pre-Conference Events

COCE participants are invited to attend the following pre-conference events at JMU on June 5. Pre-registration is required. You can register for these as part of your regular conference registration.

Graduate Student Pre-Conference

ALL DAY: 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Are you a graduate student interested in environmental communication? If so, the International Environmental Communication Association’s (IECA) 2023 Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE) Graduate Student Pre-Conference is designed for you!

Full Details

Mythmaking and Design for Environmental Futures

ALL DAY: 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Facilitated by Submergence Collective

  • Kaitlin Bryson, MFA, University of California, Los Angeles and University at Buffalo, New York.
  • Hollis Moore, MFA, MLA, Artist & Landscape Architect.
  • Rachel Zollinger, MFA, PhD Candidate, University of Arizona.
  • Mariko Thomas PhD, Skagit Valley College/Independent scholar.

This workshop is a guided practice in writing and rewriting environmental stories for the future of our planet, and creating prototypes of art, structures, urban planning, design, advocacy, activism, and educational outreach that reflect those narratives. In part one of the workshop members of the art and ecology group Submergence Collective will support participants in a deep exploration of environmental mythmaking, and create space to discuss the kinds of ideologies and archetypes found in the environmental mythologies of everything from fairy tales to urban design. We’ll explore the complexity of stories and the danger in reducing stories down to a single message. We also generate conversation on contested terms like sustainability, environment, and “nature,” and how the terms operate in stories and environmental practice.  The second part of this workshop applies storytelling to communication design. Participants will be supported in using the medium most related to their interests and field (drawing, building, designing, collaging, organizing, writing, etc.) to begin fleshing out ideas for using and making myth-related communication for environmental education, activism, structures, and design. The object will be to practice creative story-based thinking about environmental communication, advocacy, design, and education while creating a narrative that can contextualize it for humans presently and in the future. 

Public Scholarship: Practicing How we Tell Stories to Better Confront Messy Environmental Challenges

MORNING: 9am-Noon

Facilitated by Dr. Laurie Moberg, University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Study. Editor of Open Rivers and Project Manager for the Mellon Environmental Stewardship, Place, and Community (MESPAC) Initiative

What is public scholarship and how can it be a strategy for confronting the complexities of contemporary environmental issues and injustices? As environmental upheaval, crises, and uncertainties intensify, we recognize that the problems are multifaceted; the methods we use for engaging and solving these challenges need to be  just as comprehensive. Public scholarship—sharing work, experiences, research, and ideas with a broad audience—is a critical way to demonstrate intersections of differing forms of expertise and to build relationships for innovative problem-solving and for justice. Public scholarship is a strategy to cultivate conversations that brings together voices and perspectives of academics, community members, artists, activists, practitioners, and professionals, an opportunity for bridging different ways of knowing, and a way of laying a foundation for better, more robust, and more equitable solutions to environmental challenges. In this three-hour interactive workshop, join Laurie Moberg, editor for Open Rivers: Rethinking Water, Place & Community, a journal of public scholarship focused water as a lens for understanding environmental justice and climate change, to explore how public scholarship intersects with your work and with how we encounter the messy challenges of transdisciplinary environmental issues. Together, we’ll explore how public scholarship can connect academics and non-academics and foster productive collaborations. Please bring your own work that you’d like to transform into public scholarship. We’ll spend time focusing on how to craft public scholarship with the possibility of publication in a future issue of Open Rivers or other public platforms.

Backyard Climate: Place, Memory, Play A critique-based approach inspiring transdisciplinary pedagogical conversations


Facilitated by Franzisca Weder, Yvonne Love, Deirdre Murphy

The planned workshop will start with collecting photographs from (potential) participants taken before the conference related to the topic of climate concerns in your backyard. In the workshop, the photos will be used to stimulate conversations related climate concerns, human-nature relationship, notions of sustainability (first stage). From there, this art-based pedagogical approach will be discussed regarding it’s potential in teaching and learning environments (second stage). The participants will be asked to make their own rules at separate tables with the photos available, this can include a list of research questions, an art piece, storytelling or even a journalistic piece as outcome.

Many Voices, Nine Institutions*: Universities as Transgenerational Agents of Climate Justice and Resilience

A Workshop with DC CHEERS (District of Columbia Coalition of Higher Education for Environment, Resilience, and Sustainability)


Facilitated by

  • Randall Amster, Georgetown University
  • Tolessa Dekissa, University of the District of Columbia
  • Kari Fulton, Howard University
  • Jeremy Pittman, Environmental Defense Action Fund
  • Tara Scully, The George Washington University
  • Michael Svoboda, The George Washington University
  • Brooks Zitzman, The Catholic University of America

The concentration and variety of colleges and universities in this diverse city of 700,000 people—and their close proximity to the nation’s core institutions—make Washington DC a unique testing ground for cooperative thinking and action on environmental issues. DC CHEERS consists of faculty, staff, and students involved in sustainability operations and academic programs from nine universities in the metropolitan DC region. In this workshop, we invite participants from other places and institutions to join us in reviewing the DC CHEERS model for cooperative thinking and coordinated action through teaching, community engagement, and public advocacy. The workshop will involve participants in evaluating problems and opportunities we have identified and in brainstorming possible courses of action. 

The three-hour workshop will be divided into three one-hour segments. The first will focus on the teaching of sustainability: What is taught? To whom? The second will address questions of environmental justice by examining how universities collaborate with their neighboring communities. And the third will envision our climate-changed futures in concrete, local terms. How do we acknowledge these formidable challenges without diminishing our capacity to respond? In each segment, the organizers will present material from their work with DC CHEERS; then they will invite attendees to contribute through brainstorming, freewrites, pair work, small group work/writing, roundtables, or directed discussion. In the final minutes of each segment, participants will be invited to offer their own summations. In this way, we hope others may be able to adapt elements of our model to their own circumstances.

*American University, The Catholic University of America, Gallaudet University, George Mason University, The George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Trinity Washington University, and University of the District of Columbia.