Let's Build An Educator/Undergraduate Student Member Program For IECA!

Stephen Depoe's picture

IECA colleagues: As you may know, since Fall 2015 I have required students taking my undergraduate Environmental Communication course to join IECA with a student membership plus on-line journal subscription (2017 cost: $76). I have built a number of assignments around this membership that I call "IECA excursions." See https://theieca.org/resources/courses/environmental-communication-ieca-excursion-assignments for a list of assignments. I have pitched the membership to students as on par or less expensive than a textbook in many of their classes, plus providing exposure to a professional organization in a possible career field for some of them.

The IECA membership requirement has worked well across five different semesters of use. Students have provided positive feedback about getting to know the IECA membership list and other facets of the organization, as well as benefiting from the "EC List" of weekly curated content and access to current issues of our flagship journal. The IECA member blog posts from the Paris Climate meeting in December 2015 were particularly impactful for a number of my students. One student got a summer internship with the National Park Service in 2016 because of his IECA membership! The only negative feedback I have received concerns cost (students don't like to pay for textbooks or auxiliary material!).

This initiative has benefited the IECA as well, providing a bit of membership revenue as well as exposure to the organization for a couple of hundred COMM and EVST majors as well as EVST faculty members at the University of Cincinnati.

I come to you today to solicit your interest in growing this initiative into a more significant program within IECA where faculty members from around the world who belong to IECA join together to require their students to join IECA, share ideas about teaching, and create tailored content for our courses that leverage two of the most valuable assets we have as an organization (our journal and our membership list), and also encourage more colleges and universities to offer Environmental Communication on a more regular basis. 

In short--create an Undergraduate Course affinity group within IECA with the "IECA Excursions" concept as a starting point!!

To make this happen, I think we need to get a small group together to review the IECA by-laws and develop a proposal to create a new membership category--an Education Category--for undergraduate students only that offers all of the IECA member benefits except voting, bundled with an on-line subscription to the journal, at a price point that is lower than the current Student Membership (currently $50) plus on-line subs (currently $26). Perhaps something like $50. 

The board can decide on the annual membership rate for this category. We would develop the proposal for the by-laws change, along with a rationale, cost-benefit analysis, etc.

I think that a common project that enhances the value of undergraduate course in Environmental Communication that many of us teach (or would like to teach) would yield many benefits for the organization--value for our students, collaboration and networking for faculty members, encouragement to others to start teaching the course--and would help to differentiate IECA membership from membership in NCA, ICA, ECREA, IAMCR, MECCSA, AEJMC, and other professional associations that many of us belong to.

I want to get a by-laws proposal in front of the IECA board for their next meeting (which is probably in September). Shouldn't take a huge amount of time--just some passion! Who's interested in joining me? Indicate by responding with a comment to this blog or contact me at depoesp@ucmail.uc.edu. Let's dream big!



About the Author: 

Steve Depoe is Professor and Head of the Department of Communication at the University of Cincinnati. He was the founding editor of the journal ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNICATION (2007-2013) as well as a founding member and first chair of the International Environmental Communication Association (2011-2013).