Environmental debates in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic: Media, communication, and the public

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Type of Call: 
Call for journal submissions
September 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS COV-2 virus, has engendered both positive and negative impacts on the environment. Although there have been positive environmental impacts, such as a dramatic drop in air pollution when global economic activities went into standstill, negative impacts, such as massive amount of medical wastes that can harm the environment have also been generated. At the same time, news media coverage, as well as conversations on social media, have highlighted the similarities between the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. These similarities include the magnitude of both problems (although the most catastrophic impacts of climate change may still be distant), determinants of public risk perceptions about these two issues, as well as communication lessons that could be drawn up from one and applied to the other. These issues may reshape public opinion about the environment, including the impact of human activities on the environment, management of hazardous medical waste, biodiversity/wildlife conservation, and many more. Amidst scientific uncertainty, news media has also reported a link between the SARS COV-2 virus and several wildlife species, with potential implications for environmental journalism.

The purpose of this special issue of Environmental Communication is to explore the intersection between environmental and public health discourse, communication, and the public during the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suggested areas of focus (during and post-COVID-19 pandemic) include, but are not limited to:

  • Public opinion about environment and climate change from a health perspective
  • Discourse about improvement in our environment (e.g., reduced pollution, increased animal presence) as a silver lining of the pandemic
  • Comparison of public debates in and about the environment vs. the pandemic
  • Learning from the lessons of science and health communication in environmental debates
  • Roles of environmental scientists in the political discourse regarding scientific controversy about COVID-19 research
  • Communication challenges of wildlife crime prevention and wildlife consumption
  • Rhetorical studies on environmental sustainability
  • Communication at the nexus of COVID-19 and environmental justice

We invite submissions for the following types of contributions: Longer original Research Articles (8,000 words) and shorter Research Insights (3,000 words) can draw on a variety of scholarly and practitioner perspectives and methods. Advanced Reviews (8,000 words) and shorter Commentaries (2-3,000 words) are also invited, emphasizing implications for research, professional practices, current debates, and/or societal trends and decisions. All word limits include references and abstracts. As an international journal, submissions to Environmental Communication from across North America, Europe, and non-Western contexts are strongly encouraged.

All submitted manuscripts will undergo expedited peer review. Manuscripts must follow the APA Style (7th edition). To successfully pass peer review, all original research articles must present findings that are both theoretically informed and empirically sound. We encourage potential contributors to consider using approaches such as case study, meta-analysis of evaluative data, historical or ethnographic approaches, experiments, surveys, focus groups, content analysis, and other methodologies. We welcome quantitative, qualitative, and critical scholarship. Regardless of method or approach, all articles should seek to bridge theory and practice and should be written in a style that is broadly accessible and understandable to an interdisciplinary audience.

Submission Instructions

Deadlines for submissions: Papers may be submitted until 30 September 2020. (Any accepted papers for which space is not available will be published in a subsequent issue.) Manuscript accepted for the special issue will be offered 3 months free access by Taylor & Francis. You may visit the special issue website for submission link.

For enquiry: Dr. Shirley Ho (shirleyho.ec.editor@gmail.com)


Shirley Ho, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore


Associate Editors

Bruno Takahashi, Michigan State University, USA

Chen Liang, Sun Yat-Sen University, China

Janet Yang, University at Buffalo, USA

Ross Singer, Saginaw Valley State University, USA

Senja Post, University of Goettingen, Germany

Silje Kristiansen, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, USA

Tsung-Jen Shih, National Chengchi University, Taiwan