Researchers have written extensively about how and why people respond to the issue of climate change, especially in recent years. This research can help climate advocates be more effective in our outreach, but there’s a lot to comb through—and the research is rapidly evolving. That’s where this Field Guide can help.
For example, many of us highlight extreme weather and other climate impacts in our engagement work, but what does social science research actually say about how people react to being told about extreme weather and other climate impacts?
In order to be most effective, we need to briefly pause, take stock of what we do, why we do it, and importantly, how it meshes with what the latest research suggests.
“We believe a better understanding of what social science says about the underlying frames and assumptions behind climate engagement campaigns will lead to smarter and more agile campaign design.“
We also believe that underlying our best work are assumptions about human nature, psychology, and behavior that sometimes go unchecked—and may not even be accurate.
This Field Guide was co-authored by two experienced climate advocates—Carl Pope and Nathan Willcox—and two expert social scientists— Dr. Renee Lertzman and Dr. Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez. It was designed as a quick hit and review (not a how-to) for busy practitioners, and is intended to help build that better understanding. It isn't a guide for all climate campaigns; only those that have a significant public engagement component.
We have designed this resource as a guide through our most commonly used frames and the assumptions that underlie them, so that we can more easily track how we draw on a mixture of experience, training, anecdote and best practices to construct tactics and strategies. Our intention is not only to provide valuable insight, but to invite us to reflect on the ways we design our strategies and tactics in a rapidly changing ecological, political and social landscape.