Sustainability and Civic Engagement: A Communications Engagement and Education Plan

Publication Date


Document Type

Book Chapter


Across the United States primarily on a town or city basis, the increasing public awareness and understanding of the detrimental impact of human activity on the environment is fostering the development and visibility of grassroots sustainability efforts. This is most readily noted in plastic bag, Styrofoam, and plastic bottle bans. These efforts have been typically facilitated by education campaigns focused on the symbiotic relationship between human life and the planet and the intrinsic or non-market derived value of the ecosystems we inhabit. However, often the communication strategy employed has been limited by an appeal to a like-minded stakeholder constituency, reducing the traction benefit from engaging other stakeholders and the subsequent en masse alignment with regulatory intent. This paper details a grassroots effort and the stakeholder engagement process related to a specific ban. It describes the development and implementation process as carried out through a university-town partnership, where the approach taken includes proactive stakeholder engagement inclusive of a consumer survey instrument. Though survey results reveal interest and even concern for the environment, interestingly the results also highlight a self-evaluation bias among respondents. Results show that respondent perception of environmental concern is inconsistent with their actions, providing an entry point and justification for multi-channel education and communications strategies differentiated by stakeholder grouping.

Original Citation

Venkatesan M., Remy J., & Sukeforth A. (2018) Sustainability and Civic Engagement: A Communications Engagement and Education Plan. In W, Leal Filho, R.W. Marans, & J. Callewaert (Eds.), Handbook of Sustainability and Social Science Research (pp. 245-261). Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-67122-2_14