Module 3: Introduction

This module builds on Module 2, which addresses the foundational role that psychology plays in our responses, engagement and therefore our communication around climate change and adaptation.

The central argument that Christiano and Neimand (2017) make in their article, Stop Raising Awareness Already goes to the heart of this module and perhaps the course as a whole. Although they focus on public interest campaigns, they speak to the kinds of challenges that occur in many communications efforts, from presentations in meetings, to reports, to emails, and more. Many of us mistake the process of information delivery or of raising awareness, for the act of strategic communications. It can be tempting to assume that the information itself is enough to create the outcomes we seek. In doing so, we often neglect to consider and articulate the outcomes (who will do what) that we hope our information (the data, compelling story, or imagery) will have. It is also common to pay little attention to the factors (such as identities, values, messengers, framing and more) that shape how and if that information leads to our desired outcomes.

Instead, it can be helpful to think of information as one of the tools, among many, that we might use when implementing strategic communication and engagement efforts. When we do this, the way information is shared, and even the content itself, can change. If we use this course as an example, the communication goal is that learners leave with additional skills and perspectives that support you to be reflective and strategic about how you communicate, to whom, and for what purpose. The awareness you have of any specific content is a step towards that larger goal. However, many other factors about how that information is communicated, including the credibility of the instructor, the relatability of the examples, the assumptions you bring into the course, and more, will also shape the likelihood of meeting this goal.

In climate engagement work, there is an incredible amount of urgency. Often, those who are developing climate communications are so deeply connected to the topic and this sense of urgency, that it can be tempting to rush past the step of strategic reflection that informs what, why, how, and to whom we communicate. As discussed in Module 2, the psychology of climate change creates another set of dynamics to consider and attend to in our practice.

That’s why, in this module, we will be exploring not just general strategic communication principles, but factors that are particularly important to consider when communicating about climate risk and adaptation. As with all the modules, specific aspects of the work are separated out for the purposes of teaching and learning. In practice, strategic communication is integrated into all aspects of dialogue and engagement efforts.


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Strategic Dialogue and Engagement for Climate Adaptation Copyright © by Simon Fraser University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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