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Great Transformation and the Media - Alternatives to Growth as a Model of Communication


Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) / German Environment Agency (UBA)

May 01, 2017 — Apr 01, 2018
Contact Person:
Dipl.-Verw.Wiss. Roland Zieschank


The conference on the subject of the “Great Transformation and the Media. Alternatives to Growth as a Model of Communication" took place on the 10th and 11th of July 2017. It was a collaboration between the Environmental Policy Research Centre, Freie Universität, Berlin, the Evangelical Academy Berlin and the science journalist Manfred Ronzheimer, and with support from the BMUB/UBA as well as the Friends of the Earth Germany and the Federal Agency for Civic Education. The third in a series of events, it addressed the question of what new communication strategies already exist or need to be created by political agents, in the areas of science and society and also by the media in order to pave the way to the “Great Transformation”.

In recent years increasingly more new studies, research reports and examples of “good practice” have been presented which could contribute to this “Great Transformation”: linking the energy and transport transitions, new economic activity acknowledging Planetary Boundaries as well as ambitious recommendations for sustainability policy or for future social welfare present just some of the areas of focus. But how can the inevitably complex relationships be communicated – not only about the problems or the challenges that societies in the Anthroposcene must face, but also regarding the solutions.

The many findings are illuminated by science, but at the same time remain in the shadows when it comes to the (mass) media. This presents a very significant restriction to structural change in the media landscape, economically but also technical, socially and culturally with far-reaching implications, in particular, for classical print media and its role in democratic polity.

In the meantime, environmental policy has (also) become social policy and affects almost all areas of life to a greater or lesser extent – so it is even more necessary to find social resonance for discourse, upcoming decisions and reorientation.

How this public resonance can be supported should be addressed, not least of all, as an example of the ambivalence of permanent economic growth. It is about the ability of the media system to both embrace this information and to convey it to diverse audiences. In addition, new narratives will be included which go beyond the media, because they depict and influence the macro-social consciousness.

For this purpose, experts, representatives from the fields of environmental policy, media and NGOs were invited. The discourse led to conclusions being reached for further work on the topic of environmental knowledge transfer.

Please find an English summary of the conference report here.

In spring 2018, within the second project phase a special issue has been published in the reputated journal "politische oekologie" (Vol. 152) in collaboration with the oekom verein. It catches up various topics that were discussed throughout the conference and developes the conclusions further. Please find the content outline here (in German). The special issue is available here.