ICA 2017 Pre-conference: Communicating environmental issues among racial/ethnic minorities

Bruno Takahashi's picture
Type of Call: 
Call for submissions
January 31, 2017

Annual meeting of the International Communication Association


Communicating environmental issues among racial/ethnic minorities

May 25, 2017

San Diego, CA

Call for Proposals


Environmental Communication Division and Ethnicity and Race in Communication Division

Goals and participants

The aim of this pre conference is twofold. First, it seeks to highlight current and future scholarship in the intersection of race and ethnic studies and environmental communication. We hope to expand the scholarly discussion in environmental communication to become more inclusive of the unique theoretical and conceptual lenses that scholars working in studies on environmental justice and racism use. Second, it seeks to foster collaborations between scholars across the Environmental Communication Division and the Ethnicity and Race in Communication Division. We seek submissions that address the spectrum of environmental communication and race/ethnicity from diverse international perspectives, methods and subfields within communication and related fields/disciplines.


Many current socio-environmental conflicts and problems around the world that include distinct nationalities, races or ethnicities at their core, such as the slash-and-burn of forests in Indonesia that affects air quality in southeast Asia, the Flint, MI water crisis, or the export of toxic waste from developed to developing countries, require an interdisciplinary scholarly approach to make sense of the communication challenges that are involved. However, current research in this area has not focused strongly on the ways in which environmental issues are culturally and socially constructed by racial and ethnic minorities. Many of these environmental problems, including but not limited to the sitting of industrial facilities, flooding, droughts, climate change, and air and water pollution, among others, disproportionately affect minority populations.

These issues are also important for international communication scholars. Cultures define nature and environmental protection differently. As a result, cultures affect environmental laws and policies through their influence on public knowledge, political culture, institutions and subjective human perception. Therefore, an examination of the cultural characteristics of immigrants is particularly relevant to how environmental protection takes shape; conversely, questions about the meaning of environmentalism are relevant to how ethnic identity is formed.


The location of the ICA conference is a fitting setting for this pre-conference, considering that there is a large Hispanic population in the area, as well as the proximity of San Diego to the border with Mexico. In addition, the conference theme (interventions) seems to fit with the idea that environmental communication scholars and practitioners can effectively intervene to engage ethnic groups that traditionally are not included in decision making or deliberation processes that directly affect their livelihoods.

In summary, this pre-conference seeks to improve our understanding of culturally bounded rationalities across racial and ethnic groups facing environmental challenges, as they relate to the formation of environmental identities, environmental injustice, political activism, public engagement, and media representations, among others. We hope to pave the way for additional prospective research on these topics.


We welcome a diversity of topics, including but not limited to the following:

Acculturation and environmental communication
Advocacy campaigns involving ethnic and racial minorities
Climate change communication across ethnic/racial groups
Communication in the context of environmental justice and racism
Conflict resolution involving racial and ethnic minorities
Crisis communication related to minorities during natural disasters
Cross-cultural research on environmental perceptions and behaviors
Environmental social marketing campaigns targeting ethnic minorities
Hispanics’ environmental information needs and the role of language
Immigrant workers and environmental practices
Indigenous populations and environmental discourse
Media representations of minorities in the context of environmental affairs
Public engagement and public participation of minorities in environmental issues
Social media use by minorities about environmental issues

Submission process

The organizers invite interested participants to submit extended abstracts of less than 1000 words describing the purpose, theory, method(s), results, and conclusions of the study. We also welcome critical and reflexive submissions that provide an insightful perspective on the topics highlighted in this call.

Please submit 1) a separate title page including the paper’s title and author’s details (name, title, and institutional affiliation) and 2) an anonymized abstract.

The submission deadline is January 31st, 2017 at 5pm Eastern Time. Acceptance decisions will be made in early March. Full manuscripts will be required before the pre-conference.

Please submit your proposals as a pdf file to btakahas@msu.edu

Publication of selected papers

Selected presenters will be invited to submit their full manuscripts for publication in a special edited book by Routledge in the Environment and Sustainability series. More details TBA.


Date: Thursday May 25, 2017, from 9am to 4pm
Venue: TBD, but the event will be hosted at a venue in or around San Diego

Registration fee

For faculty and post docs

$30 registration fee, which includes lunch and coffee breaks

For students

$15 registration fee, which includes lunch and coffee breaks


The pre-conference is sponsored by the Department of Communication at Michigan State University, the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information at Nanyang Technological University, and the Center on Global Justice at the University of California, San Diego. We are able to offer a highly reduced registration rate thanks to these sponsors.

Organizers and contact information

Bruno Takahashi (Michigan State University and chair of the Environmental Communication Division) (btakahas@msu.edu)
Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths, University of London and vice chair of the Ethnicity and Race in Communication Division) (a.saha@gold.ac.uk)
Sonny Rosenthal (Nanyang Technological University) (sonnyrosenthal@gmail.com)