At The Conversation: “The activists’ playbook behind Obama’s Keystone rejection”

Protester holds a 'Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline' sign

Protester holds a ‘Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline’ sign (photo credit: Steve Rhodes/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND)

My first-ever analysis piece in The Conversation was published yesterday. The piece analyzes how climate change activists — especially 350.org — influenced President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, and what this victory means in the near future for activists. An excerpt:

According to my research into climate change activism, 350.org – an advocacy organization co-founded by environmental author Bill McKibben – and its allies employed a number of communication tactics to achieve what is one of the biggest symbolic victories for the US climate movement to date.

Specifically, climate activists embraced the following strategies to scuttle the pipeline: shifting the final decision from the State Department to the White House; effectively counter-framing pro-pipeline arguments; and successfully combining digital organizing with offline actions.

The Conversation bills itself as “an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.” Read my whole piece at The Conversation and let me know what you think!

More than sun and rum: The incredible communicative richness of Puerto Rico

Man with Peace for Vieques sign

Peace for Vieques

Cross-posted from the April 2015 edition of the ICA newsletter.

I remember my excitement when I learned that the 2015 ICA conference would be held in Puerto Rico. Not only would I get to see friends and family well before my annual Christmas trip, but also to brag a bit to my colleagues about my country. “Yes, I did in fact grow up here. Why, thank you very much. Yes I am proud. I agree — you must come back.”

I wager many of our colleagues — especially those from places that have been battered recently by historic snowstorms and frigid temperatures — have been consulting travel books and websites for months, giddily planning their all-too-short stays in the Island of Enchantment. And while I definitely plan to brag about our beaches, restaurants, and historic landmarks as if I were personally responsible for them, I also wish to draw attention to other aspects of the island that make it a fascinating — and sometimes frustrating — place to live.

Continue Reading

New pub about online climate activism in “Environmental Politics”

NI XL protest sign

NO XL sign at anti-Keystone pipeline protest

More news on the publication front: my first peer-reviewed journal article based my dissertation is now published. It’s called “Climate change advocacy online: theories of change, target audiences, and online strategy,” and it’s available from Taylor & Francis’ Environmental Politics journal. Environmental Politics has a 1.640 2-year impact factor , a 2.071 5-year impact factor, and it’s ranked #21 in political science and #32 in environmental studies by Thomson Reuters’ 2014 Journal Citation Reports.

Here’s the abstract:

Widespread adoption of the Internet has transformed how most US political advocacy organizations operate, but perhaps more important has been the formation of new types of advocacy organizations. These ‘Internet-mediated advocacy organizations’ tend to have smaller, geographically dispersed and networked staffs, behave as hybrids of traditional political organizations, and emphasize the use of online tools for offline action. The climate change debate has spurred formation of many such organizations – including 350.org – that now advocate for climate action alongside legacy/environmental organizations. How do these organizations differ from their legacy/environmental counterparts? What does their rise mean for climate change political advocacy? I explore these and other questions through in-depth interviews with top online strategists and other staffers at Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA, Energy Action Coalition, 1Sky, and 350.org. Interviews revealed broad agreement among Internet-mediated/climate groups regarding core strategic assumptions about climate advocacy, but some divergence among legacy/environmental organizations. They also revealed connections between these assumptions, audience segment targeting, and strategic use of the Internet for advocacy. I discuss implications for the future of US climate advocacy.

I hope to have more of my dissertation published fairly soon. If you’re interested in reading the whole thing but don’t have access the Environmental Politics, please contact me and I can send you a copy.