Social Capital Recommendations
Four overall recommendations come out of this component of the Communications Capital Framework for this movement.
First, the movement needs to develop a strong group identity, which current and new members can ascribe to so that solidarity, social norms and trust within the movement can be achieved.
Second, movement members need to be self and movement reflective so that the movement does not become too insular and exclusionary of potential new members.
Third, movement members need to become adept at building relationships with others. This means that movement members need to develop skill sets around and capacity for rapport building, negotiation and dialogue, conflict resolution and problem solving within the movement and between movement members and outside parties.
Finally, movement members should consider consciously developing and utilizing social relationships for the benefit of the movement. Each member has the potential to build the social ties, which could advance the movement and should make an effort to increase these ties. Priority for expanding the social network would be with those in positions of power and influence. Thought leaders, government employees, artists, technicians etc would all contribute valuable assets to the movement.
6 Specific Recommendations below focus on actions to build social capital but also improve group culture conditions so that outside members feel comfortable creating ties with movement members and contributing to movement goals.
1. Each organization should support and participate actively in the development and betterment of the BC Working Group and Network on Sustainability Education as a representative of the movement and central focus of political and symbolic power.
2. Support and utilize the WalkingtheTalk social networking and information sharing website
3. Increase the knowledge base within the movement on social capital theory for better utilization of the collective social capital in relation to movement networks and ties.
4. Include in training and education sessions, information on relationship building, interpersonal communication, dialogue and negotiation skills
5. Offer as many opportunities for movement members to meet face-face for planning initiatives so that stronger more meaningful relationships are built. This will increase the likelihood that movement members will work together and new members or other citizens not part of the movement can be included, further building potential social ties and the related social capital
6. Conduct an assessment of the internal culture of the movement and it’s potential barriers to outsiders. Have all members consider carefully the rhetoric and language used to describe the movement and it’s goals and review how this framing of the movement might attract or detract potential new movement members
Symbolic Capital Recommendations
The movement needs to gain control over the symbolism and discourse on sustainability education in BC. In order to do this they need to develop a shared set of symbols and discourse frames, and communicate these symbols and frames in a collective and consistent effort in all avenues for communication. This includes in the dominant and alternative media, through cultural events and products, through public participation and political communication and in person through social networks.
1. Organize regular dialogues which encourage visioning and future planning and help movement members continue to articulate a shared discourse
2. Develop a shared definition of the term sustainability and provide this common definition in all communications documents
3. Follow the recommendations of the 2006 and 2009 Sustainability Poll research done by James Hoggan and Associates on how to communicate about sustainability including using vivid imagery, making sustainability personal and practical, avoiding jargon and remaining hopeful and positive.
4. Include the “Ten Principles of Sustainability” produced by participants of the “Why Sustainability Education” event in 2007 in all communications documents. This should be the shared definition of sustainability education.
5. Develop fact sheets and media backgrounders on the “Ten Principles of Sustainability” and the common definition of sustainability created in recommendation #1
6. Develop and share common communication story frames for each priority audience in BC. Communications professionals working for education organizations and those responsible for developing and implementing communications should work with each other across BC to develop consistent frames to promote. This could be done with a common list-serve or through this blog or other social networking tool.
7. Collectively compile an annual success stories compendium which represents examples of what the movement sees as sustainability education
Human Capital Recommendations
Due to an overall lack of capital to hire communications and technology experts to specialize in promoting the goals of the movement in BC, it is recommended that the movement build human capital to increase the numbers of movement members skilled in media and information technologies. Where there is skill in this area (usually the youth portion of the movement), there is great work being produced to further the movement. A potential approach then would be for the youth groups to educate the rest of the movement on these technologies and processes.
1. Arrange for basic media and communication training for movement members (Potentially run as communication and media workshops across BC designed by communications professionals as volunteers) or as online modules.
2. Arrange for the training of movement members in the development of story frames, press release formats and speaking to the media
3. Arrange for the training of movement members in website and online media design
4. Educate members on writing for radio, newspapers and television
5. Provide training on social networking and online communication such as Facebook, Twitter, Ning and blogging which have become popular sites for public communication and viral marketing
6. Provide training on the development of podcasts, video production and distribution online. The video from the How Sustainability Education? A Solutions Summit event is a great example of the potential of expertise in this area.
7. Arrange for training of movement members in design principles and Adobe Creative Suite
8. Arrange for the training of movement members in basic photography
9. Arrange for the training of movement members in information technology such as webcasting, video conferencing, online document sharing and telephone conferencing
10. Partner with SFU Centre for Dialogue to provide training and skill building in dialogue, negotiation and facilitation
Political Capital Recommendations
Literature in environmental communication focuses a great deal on the need for better public participation processes and greater representation and opportunities for citizens to have their voices heard in public forums. The need to address public participation models and for better representation in public forums is also important for the sustainability education movement in BC. In order for the movement to advance it’s goals it must ensure it has respected, articulate and informed voices speaking on the movement’s behalf in public forums and political debates. It also has to encourage and facilitate dialogue and open discussion to increase the opportunities for achieving consensus and support for movement goals.
1. Take stock of the forms of social capital that movement members have access to that can be converted into political capital specifically
2. Prioritize which forms of social capital may need to be developed and which ones can be converted in the near and medium term future. For example the vast network of respected academics in BC could be mobilized to get sustainability education on the agenda for the next federal election. A few individuals in the movement may be the ones with many connections who could build the momentum
3. Provide training on effective public speaking and utilization of message frames
4. Track public forums on political issues in BC and inform members of these opportunities to attend and represent the voice/perspective of sustainability education
3. Connect with and inform those respected and influential individuals who might have access to many of these forums (or the development of them) and communicate the movement’s goals, story frames and connection to other political issues which might be listed as higher on the agenda at the current time.
4. Develop community forums across BC to connect and communicate with BC citizens. Educating and empowering citizens across BC will likely increase dialogue and a favorable public discourse around sustainability education.
Cultural Capital Recommendations
Although cultural capital is usually referred to as an individual asset that is developed by individuals (as is social capital), the collective cultural capital of many individuals within the movement will be influential and will increase the amount of cultural influence and symbolic power held by the movement itself. Educating the movement members and ensuring access to cultural resources might not be a great difficulty for the movement considering it is an education movement. What might be an important focus though is on expanding the forms of culture that movement members have knowledge of and proficiency in. Art and Culture have a significant influence on public discourse. The more opportunities for the development of cultural artifacts which promote sustainability education the better...
1. Educate members on contemporary cultural forms and the power of these forms to influence public opinion and discourse (such as advertising, formal education, popular music, fashion, celebrities etc)
2. Encourage the framing of education as cultural capital in the public discourse which could be one of the ways to increase the relevance and value of sustainability education
3. Focusing specifically on the cultural capital accrued from an education with a focus on sustainability will also increase the respect this form of education receives (i.e., it is the education of the future, provides skill sets that our new economy requires etc)
4. Educate and encourage movement members to become proficient in and able to produce art and cultural artifacts such as music, paintings, films, books, magazines, radio shows etc to increase the number of cultural artifacts being produced with the frame of sustainability education