Thursday, June 20, 2013

Environmental Communication: Blogpost on Biodiversity from Phipps

Phipps' Edible Garden
The work at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh leads the field in so many ways:
- green buildings from smart to Living Building
- sustainable site management in the SITES program
- teaching about healthy food and healthy eating habits, and modeling them
- and environmental communication

The recent blog post on Love, Not Loss: A New Way to Talk About Biodiversity is a must-read and a great example of how we who interpret nature and climate science, and the human connection to our world, must learn to reframe the discussion.  The post describes a campaign by the Commission on Education and Communication at the International Union for Conservation of Nature to change the way we communicate about biodiversity so that we can improve our effectiveness and supporting biodiversity. The way environmental activists and educators have talked about making change doesn't seem to have been as effective as we'd all hoped...time for a new approach to create real change. 

Here's an excerpt from the post:
The three core aspects of this campaign are 1.) localizing its focus to regional species, 2.) humanizing the message and 3.) talking about the people behind conservation successes. The goal is to combine this positive messaging with a call to action. These two things together are what the IUCN are hoping will create a real shift in conservation attitudes and actions. As an educator, this approach resonates because of the pervasiveness of negative messaging in environmental education for children. Sometimes doom and gloom are the main motivators of a program, which can scare and guilt children; students who are given negative messaging retain less information and are less likely to make an attitude change than when given a positive environmental message (Source).  Another danger is that a focus on loss and extinction can often lead to apathy and inaction (Source). We should be inspiring our students towards opportunity instead of scaring them away from consequences. It is entirely possible to engage our students and inspire action, not fear.

Combining messaging with a call to action, changing from doom to hope with a plan - now that's what we museums, zoos, gardens, aquariums and historic sites can do in a way few other places can.  Think about it, then practice it.

No comments:

Post a Comment