Climate, Creatures and COVID-19: Environment and Animals in 21st Century Media Discourse

July 7, 2020

Few issues dominate twenty-first century media and public consciousness quite like climate crisis and the environment. We are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of our co-existence with the more-than-human world in our lives and broader ecologies (Haraway, 2008, 2016), and as a result are seeking new ways of discussing and ‘thinking with’ environmental issues, nature and non-human animals. This has presented new challenges and opportunities in areas including news media, TV and film, radio and social media.

A body of ecological research exists which is essentially scientific in nature, but with much of it requiring paid access, restricted to an academic audience, and/or presented in language which limits accessibility to the general public. As a result, those outside academia are particularly dependent on all forms of media for information, education and entertainment about environment, climate and nature.

Ecological feminist work, by scholars including Carolyn Merchant (1983), Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva (1993), Greta Gaard (1993), and Carol J. Adams and Lori Gruen (2014) has, for decades, gone a considerable way to demonstrating the possibilities for, and importance of, uniting academic research on the more-than-human world with practice, and making environmental and species themes a matter of general public input and engagement. This has proven to be a profoundly cross- and inter-disciplinary topic, inspiring research and commentary across the humanities and social sciences.

However, this existing research invites updated considerations of the need for media to articulate holistic, rooted understandings of the place of the human in the world. There is a need for further work which speaks to the rapidly changing reality of the twenty-first century, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly increasing urgency of climate crises, and changed ways of working, communicating, and thinking and being in the world. In particular, there is a need to consider how media voices during the current pandemic, and increased interest in environmental themes over the last few years, have informed public action, attitudes and even policy.

Networking Knowledge invites contributions from postgraduate and early career researchers for a special issue dealing with this topic from any disciplinary perspective or across disciplines, including both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The language of mainstream media and climate crisis.
  • Climate discourse and the free press.
  • Environment and (de)colonisation.
  • Media representations of wild/tame animals.
  • Environmental discourse in the Global South.
  • Consumerism and animal welfare.
  • ‘Cli-Fi’ and environmental storytelling as method.
  • Focus groups and environmental themes.
  • Documentary filmmaking and nature.
  • Environmental debate on social media.
  • Environmentally (un)friendly advertising.
  • Community engagement in green initiatives.
  • Animals and live performance.
  • Environmentalism and satire.
  • Animals in children’s TV.
  • Nature and landscapes in popular fiction.
  • Media portrayals of veganism/vegetarianism.
  • Environmentalism and political representation.

Please submit a 500-word abstract (not including references) and 100-word bio to the journal guest editor Rebecca Jones by 1 September 2020. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 30 September, with full papers (detailed submission guidelines can be found here) to be submitted for peer review via our OJS system by 11 January 2021. We aim to publish the special issue in the summer of 2021