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CSSN Scholar Publications

A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and the Politics of American Environmentalism

March 1, 2022

A Strategic Nature, co-authored by CSSN Scholars Melissa Aronczyk & Maria I. Espinoza, explores how promotional agents have influenced the public perception of the environment since the beginning of the 20th century.

In A Strategic Nature, Melissa Aronczyk and Maria I. Espinoza examine public relations as a social and political force that shapes both our understanding of the environmental crises we now face and our responses to them. Drawing on in-depth interviews, ethnography, and archival research, Aronczyk and Espinoza document the evolution of PR techniques to control public perception of the environment since the beginning of the twentieth century. More than spin or misinformation, PR affects how institutions and individuals conceptualize environmental problems — from conservation to coal mining to carbon credits. Revealing the linkages of professional strategists, information politics, and environmental standards, A Strategic Nature shows how public relations restricts alternative paths to a sustainable climate future.

Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Skorzewiak