Research on sustainability and environmental communication

In a conceptional paper Hoppe and Wolling (2017) proposed sustainability communication as an analytical framework for environmental communication research. Within this framework different levels of observation and communication are distinguished which allow to structure the research field and to develop a category system that can be used for the systematic analysis of research on environmental communication.

Furthermore the following questions are addressed:

  1. Which events and news factors influence the success of environmental campaignes and environmental organisations in obtaining media attention?
  2. Under what conditions and by what means can communication/reporting on environmental problems and/or environmental protection influence citizens' knowledge, attitudes and actions? A role models effective?
  3. How can the variance in media coverage on transboundary environmental disasters be explained? Do structural conditions of the affected countries play a role?
  4. How do people use the media before, during and after environmental crises and how can this behavior be explained?
  5. In order to address the critique that environmental protection is at the expense of the socially disadvantaged we ask: How do the media link the issue of social justice (poverty vs. wealth) to the ecological dimensions of the sustainability goals.

CLIMATE-Network for more Sustainability in Thuringia (KLIMA-N)

Together with colleagues from Erfurt University of Applied Sciences, the University of Erfurt and Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences, the EMPK will work on a joint project that promotes the efforts of the participating universities to achieve greater sustainability. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research until the end of 2025.

Motivation: Why higher education institutions?

Progressive climate change and the loss of biodiversity are among the most pressing global crises we are currently facing. As centers of education and research, universities and other higher education institutions contribute to tackling and solving such complex problems. They educate future generations of decision makers and scientists who will develop new innovative technologies for sustainable energy resources, materials and production processes and propose how socio-technical changes can be realized.

Tasks and objectives of the project

Four tasks are being implemented by the EMPK in the KLIMA-N project: Firstly, we are identifying which university stakeholders are already working on sustainability, e.g. in teaching, research, campus management and student initiatives. To this end, we are investigating their activities and motivations. Secondly, we will develop communication strategies that can increase awareness, knowledge and active support for a sustainable transformation of the university. Thirdly, we aim to activate the members of the university to participate in the activities for a more sustainable university. Therefore, we will engage as communicators and active participants in the transformation process. At the same time, we will examine the results of our activities. As a result of this transformative research, we will identify key factors for a successful transformation process. Fourthly, we will share the results with our partner universities and local partners who could build their communication activities on our findings.

In addition to research on the role of communication in the transformation process towards more sustainability at the university, a pilot project to optimize energy consumption on campus will be carried out in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Peter Bretschneider from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at TU Ilmenau.

For further information on the project, please contact Prof. Dr. Jens Wolling or Mira Rochyadi-Reetz