During the fall of my sophomore year, I nervously entered one of the creakiest old buildings on campus, Tower, and climbed up the steepest stairs to swing a right into one of the most creatively charged rooms on campus, The NewEnglander office. I plopped myself onto a quicksand couch that crisp Wednesday evening and I continued to do so every week for two years until now, when we can only connect through Zoom.
It was in Tower 21, and for The NewEnglander club and class, that I began to venture into the depths of environmental communication.
When you grow up along the coast with a tangible, inimitable, deep-rooted saltwater wedding band, you feel monstrous when you don’t explore its complexities, learn from its secrets, and protect it. Advocating for something that cannot speak makes it hard to know where to begin, what to defend, and how to preserve it. The most powerful weapon can be a voice. Being a soft-spoken person, I do not often raise my voice which makes it easier to raise my words.
I have really enjoyed writing about my experiences in the natural world. These have ranged from the saltwater edges of the east coast and sharp, sturdy granite shouldered mountains of New Hampshire, to the indigo blue glaciers and guanaco inhabited fields of Patagonia. While I have only touched various small pieces of the world’s environs and ecosystems, sharing the way I perceived these places gave me an opportunity to elaborate on why we must come together and change the way we live so these places can continue to exist with us.
While there are differences in how people view the climate crisis and environmental catastrophes, these gaps in understanding can be filled by better delivery of information, whether about the wildfire ravaged grounds and orange skylines of California or the eradication of marine ecosystems in a boiling saltwater sea. These events can be linked to the current and ongoing climate crisis; writing about such important topics has enabled me to creatively communicate the science behind our changing world while maintaining the integrity of the information.
I was introduced to the Environmental Communication minor by Professor William Homestead, who created the minor at New England College. Studying and practicing environmental communication helps one become a power persuader in communicating environmental issues in a way that everyone can understand while getting people to act on prevalent environmental crises. I was able to fulfill the requirements for this minor by writing for the Green Scene section of The NewEnglander, participating in a travel writing course and even taking science courses that focused on the organisms living within a changing climate, but also required me to write quite often. All of these courses strengthened my words and desire to advocate on behalf of the environment that sustains us.
The way in which I communicate my own knowledge and perceptions about the environment around me has the power to influence someone’s perspective of the same environment, the same world we share. Effectively communicating scientific findings not only provides a foundation of information about the world but gives others the opportunity to cultivate a deeper understanding to how their environment is influenced by their actions and how they have the power to create lasting change.
Environmental communication explores the ways that information is crafted for a broad audience, and how it is taken in and what we choose to do with it.