Author Q&A Session with Tema Milstein, Mairi Pileggi & Eric L Morgan

Routledge is pleased to share with you our author Q&A session with Tema Milstein, Mairi Pileggi & Eric L Morgan for their newly published title Environmental Communication Pedagogy and Practice.

Tema Milstein is Presidential Teaching Fellow at the University of New Mexico, USA. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, and Affiliate Faculty in the Communication and Journalism Department, as well as the Sustainability Studies Program.

Mairi Pileggi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies and Director of the Gender Studies Program at Dominican University of California, USA.

Eric Morgan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at New Mexico State University, USA.

They are also recent winners of Tarla Rai Peterson Book Award in Environmental Communication at the 103rd National Communication Association Annual Convention in November 2017!

About the book and the subject area:

Congratulations on the publication of your book Environmental Communication Pedagogy and Practice. What do you want your audience to take away from the book?

We want new and experienced teachers and practitioners, both within and beyond the university, to take away transformative ways to engage learners in examining how our everyday, institutional, and political communication informs, shifts, and is shaped by our ecological relations.

What inspired you to put this book together?

This book was sparked by a conversation we had about our experiences teaching environmental communication. It’s a relatively new field, but also one that is immensely important across disciplines and public situations today; and we realized that, though we and our colleagues are extremely passionate about teaching this topic and it is drawing ever-increasing student and practitioner interest, none of us had ever taken a course in environmental communication as such classes largely did not exist until quite recently. This meant there was no model or map (outside of a few relatively recent textbooks) for teaching this transdisciplinary subject. It also meant there were many distinctive and creative teaching approaches and, due to the real-world urgency of the subject matter, these approaches were applied and praxis focused. We felt we and the world could benefit from a resource that shared some of the most effective and state-of-the-art approaches for teaching about communication and ecological relations, and provided reflection on the teaching processes and challenges. We first organized a day-long event of workshops and presentations held in Chicago in 2014 to bring together interested teachers, scholars, and practitioners. The overwhelmingly positive response to that event made clear the time was ripe for expanding the conversation by putting together a book with international voices and diverse approaches.

What did you enjoy about editing the volume?

One theme common to all our experiences in editing this volume was how much we enjoyed the opportunity to discover the diverse and new ways environmental communication pedagogy is being practiced. The various disciplinary perspectives and variety of approaches offered by scholars and practitioners from around the world are inspiring and being exposed to, and in conversation with, them has greatly improved our own teaching. We also enjoyed developing collaborative relationships with each other and with the other authors and appreciated working with Routledge editors, who helped the process go smoothly.

About you:

What first attracted you to this topic as an area of study?

Each of us has travelled a unique path to the pedagogy, study, and practice of environmental communication.

Milstein – My understanding of myself as not only a cultural but also an ecological being was nurtured by how and where I grew up. I was fortunate to grow up free range in the 1970s in a forest with a slate-bed creek, friendly garter snakes, puffball mushrooms, and waterfalls, as well as to live in different parts of the world. This privileged way of being in place, and in intimate relationship with what David Abram has generatively termed the "more-than-human world," made me interested in the diverse cultural ways we humans perceive and practice interspecies and ecological relations. My scholarship focuses on this (in cases ranging from ecotourism to activism to zoos to traditional ecocultural meaning systems) as does my teaching, a vocation I love.

Pileggi – On March 28, 1979, my birthday, an accident at the Three-Mile Island nuclear power plant caused a meltdown in one of the reactors. I lived in a small town in Pennsylvania, about ninety miles from the plant. I was three months pregnant. Although I had been a strong activist in the feminist, peace, and the anti-nuclear movements, this event marked the start of a deeply critical reflection on my relationship to the environment. Storytelling has been key in my roles as activist and teacher and has become the foundation to how I teach environmental communication.

Morgan – My journey began as a high school student in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the late 1980s. It was there that I participated in my first public hearing concerning an environmental issue. This hearing focused on the development of the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (now Plant), which to this day remains the sole nuclear waste storage facility of any kind in the United States. This exercise in deliberative democracy was fascinating in its own right, but the diversity of ways that community members expressed their relationship to environment was the question that really captured my attention. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I encountered a framework that allowed me to ask and answer questions about the intersection of culture and environment. Since that time, I have researched the communication dimensions surrounding culture and environment in the Canadian Arctic, in Europe, and in the desert southwestern region of the U.S.

What advice would you give to an aspiring researcher in your field?

Try to find ways to nurture your passion for teaching, research, and activism through engagement with community, place, and the more-than-human world. This could mean connecting with other teachers (something we hope this book will help accomplish), connecting with researchers and practitioners to engage and debate questions, or becoming involved in the environmental advocacy movements in your local community. And spend as much time as you can outside, sensing and learning.

Do you have plans for future books? What’s next in the pipeline for you?

Milstein – I have a Handbook of Ecocultural Identity under review, co-edited with José Castro-Sotomayor, and I am working on several different research projects focused on culture, discourse, and ecological relations.

– I am working on digital storytelling projects with students and with local non-profits.

Morgan – I am working with graduate students in investigating the role of community gardens along the U.S./Mexico border as culturally significant spaces for community organizing and activism. Concurrently, I am also collaborating with colleagues in biochemistry and biology in designing curriculum around science communication.

Environmental Communication Pedagogy and Practice is part of the Routledge Studies in Environmental Communication and Media

Click image below for an exclusive sneak peek!

Environmental Communication Pedagogy and Practice

Tema Milstein

Tema Milstein

Mairi Pileggi

Environmental Communication Pedagogy and Practice.

Eric L Morgan

Eric L Morgan