Technical Communication for Environmental Action

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Call for abstracts for edited collection under contract with SUNY
June 15, 2020

Call for Proposals: Technical Communication for Environmental Action
A collected edition under contract with SUNY Press
Editor: Sean D. Williams, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs

Climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing the global community in the 21st century, and with its position at the border of people, technology, science, and communication, Technical Communication has a significant role to play in helping to solve these complex environmental problems. Curiously, however, Technical Communication (TC) research has remained relatively quiet on the contributions of our field to environmental action. This collection of essays seeks to redress this dearth of published research on environmental concerns in TC by engaging scholars and practitioners in a deep conversation about the ways that our field has contributed to pragmatic and democratic action to address climate change. This collection seeks to explore the actual practice of international technical communicators participating in government projects, corporate processes, nonprofit programs, and international agency work that shapes global environmental action.

The editor welcomes 500-word abstracts of projects that address the theme outlined above (and possible topics below) by June 15, 2020.

The editor will provide feedback to abstract authors by July 15, 2020, with the first draft of accepted chapters due January 15, 2021. Revisions of chapters will be due March 15, 2021 and final manuscripts will be due May 15, 2021 The collection is scheduled to be published in late 2021.

Please send abstracts and questions to // //.

Possible Topics
Contributors might submit chapters on the sample topics listed below (or those that are similar) and which generally favor case studies and other empirical research investigating how technical communicators have

  • Collaborated with teams to construct complex environmental policies or programs by actively engaging with local “users” of the environment
  • Designed and/or tested environmental documentation and other communication pieces
  • Contributed to the design, implementation, and testing of sophisticated digital tools for visualizing climate-based data
  • Participated in environmental action outside of the Global North, especially in disenfranchised communities most impacted by global climate change
  • Created partnerships with other scientific or technical professionals working on the environment, including how those teams formed, operated, and created environmental actions
  • Engaged with grass roots and local activism to pursue positive environmental outcomes
  • Promoted “citizen science” and related programs aimed at environmental causes
  • Challenged local workplace practices to spur environmental action among fellow employees and how those practices became institutionalized
  • Employed or influenced “radical sharing” or “tactical Technical Communication,” a type of citizen science and engineering, to influence environmental action
  • Required students to engage in environmental action (such as service-learning experiences)
  • Challenged students to consider issues of social justice and its relationship to environmental action
  • Developed environmental initiatives at their workplaces outside their regular job requirements by employing participatory design practices.

As a collection centered on praxis, the chapters should focus on concrete practice but should nonetheless be carefully grounded in Technical Communication and related theories. Additionally, the chapters should engage with the notion of phronesis, and how the actions described contributed to improving communities. Finally, the chapters should assume a participatory, dialogic orientation that sidesteps the “deficit model” and shows how diverse voices were integrated into environmental actions.

The topics proposed above are only suggestive; authors should feel free to contact the editor to explore other possible ideas for chapters.

In comparison to prior work in Technical Communication concerning the environment which almost exclusively considers North American perspectives, this collection explicitly seeks to engage a global audience. This global audience can be divided among subgroups including

  • Scholars in TC who want to stay informed about progress in the field on this important topic
  • Teachers at both the graduate and undergraduate levels who integrate environmental issues into their classes or focus entire classes on environmental issues
  • Practicing technical communicators currently working in positions that require them to participate in environmental action or communication about environmental topics.

Please contact the editor, Sean D. Williams, with expressions of interest or any questions: