Best Wishes to IECA For COCE 2019 and Beyond--And a Proposal

Stephen Depoe's picture

IECA colleagues: I am sad to report that will not be able to attend COCE 2019 in Vancouver next week due to a family emergency at home. Congratulations in advance to the IECA board, conference committee chair Geo Takach, and Executive Director Mark Meisner for hosting what looks to be a marvelous conference. I will be participating remotely in my Wednesday session, chaired by Jill Hopke, on teaching innovation.

I also want to say a word of thanks to outgoing IECA chair Richard Doherty (good work, friend), and a word of encouragement to incoming IECA board leaders--new chair Samantha Senda-Cook and vice-chair Franzisca Weder. They will bring considerable organization, communication skills, and passion for the work ahead. I wish them the best and offer my hand in service where needed.

IECA is crossing its eighth anniversary next week at COCE 2019--happy birthday! As the organization looks ahead toward the ten-year mark in 2021, I would like to offer a proposal for consideration by the board and membership:

Add a student/education membership category that will encourage college and university (and even high school) teachers of environmental communication to have their students join IECA as part of the class. Make the cost of the membership 50% of a full-year student rate. Identify 3-10 IECA members (IECA teaching fellows) who are interested in building out member-only course content for students who join IECA, and provide those individuals with complementary or reduced-rate IECA memberships for participating in this project. Have the IECA teaching fellows report on the results of their work at COCE 2021, at which time the board can decide whether to continue and even expand the program. This project will grow a new revenue stream for the organization, and will draw together IECA members who have a common interest in teaching environmental communication in order to better leverage the assets of the organization on behalf of students.

As I have reported in this blog, I have required my Environmental Communication students at the University of Cincinnati to join IECA as student members for a number of semesters since 2015. I have also required them to purchase a one-year on-line subscription to ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNICATION (that element could be optional in this program). I have leveraged member-only content such as the membership directory and "THE LIST" e-newsletter to provide my students with a window into the world of environmental communication research and practice. And at a modest cost to the students.

But I could do more with this approach with a little help from other environmental communication educators.

A similar approach--identify a small group of IECA members to lead in building out member-only content--could be started for IECA members in the consulting/advocacy/corporate community as well. Perhaps a webinar series or environmental communication professional badge or credentialing process could be developed this way, raising even more awareness of best practices and revenue for the organization.

I have sent this proposal to vice-chair Samantha Senda-Cook, who will be discussing it with the IECA board and membership at COCE. I hope you will support the idea and consider join the team of IECA teaching fellows who will move the project forward.

Enjoy Vancouver everyone!

About the Author: 

Steve Depoe is Professor and Head of the Communication Department at the Universiity of Cincinnati. He was a founding member and first chair of the International Environmental Communication Association (2011-13).