Messaging Sustainability for Environmental Health
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The Montgomery County Department of Parks has asked our team of Environmental Science and Policy majors at the University of Maryland, to assist in developing creative ways to effectively message sustainability as a way to protect the health of County citizens. This paper highlights suggestions for ways to effectively do so. It focuses on the best communication channels, specifically comparing mediated vs. in-person modes of communication, and then dives deeper to examine specific demographic groups to reach the most diverse population possible. The demographic groups targeted are various religious groups, the Hispanic community, lower-income communities, and waterfront communities. These specific demographic groups were chosen because, according to peer-reviewed research, they tend to be disenfranchised, and therefore, should be targeted and engaged in communication efforts. Analyzing these communities provided insight and novel ideas for connecting with a wide range of audiences with sustainability messages. Ultimately, the Department of Parks should focus on creating an emotional connection with residents, incorporating a mediated mode with specific strategies to reach the largest number of people with high engagement, while using community events to reach a more targeted audience. In addition to connecting with residents, community events are extremely impactful for engaging Hispanic communities. Ensuring that a multicultural and empowering environment is created when organizing such events is critical. Similarly, the waterfront communities also respond best to community events because hearing a message in-person forms a connection. It is also important to note the significant relationships between both poverty and religion with sustainability when considering ways to engage the County citizens; low income residents will respond well to community events because they will feel included as citizens in the County. Religion can play a large role in the sustainability movement, and the most effective ways to message sustainability to religious groups is to use techniques like message framing or to reach out to religious leaders and ask them to promote sustainability to their audience. In conclusion, there are multiple messaging strategies that Montgomery County Parks could use to reach County residents, as well as more specific techniques reach targeted audiences and demographics that usually feel left out of environmental conversations.
Final project for ENSP400: Environmental Science and Policy Capstone (Fall 2017). University of Maryland, College Park.