Call for Papers: Symposium on Communication, Ecology, and Cultural Heritage

Papers should focus on the intersections of media and communication technologies with ecology and cultural heritage.

The protection of our habitat, environment, ecology, and cultural heritage is a central challenge for policy makers and citizens of the 21st century. Part of the challenge is about how to balance economic growth and environmental sustainability, resist and fight cultures of excessive and wasteful production and consumption, struggle for a safe and just natural and built environment, and develop new values of human existence.

Public communication plays a crucial role in all these endeavors. Citizens may use social media to promote new environmental values. Journalists and mass media may keep the public informed of environmental risks. Educational institutions may use instructional materials to teach environmental ethics and law. Government and non-governmental organizations utilize media of all varieties, old and new, to propagate or monitor policies.

Public communication is not just about the use of media and technologies in a narrow sense. Forms of communication are rich and diverse. The designs of urban spaces communicate values about how the spaces can be used. The development and management of heritage sites such as the West Lake in Hangzhou, or immaterial culture such as traditional handicrafts, communicate values about consumption, ecology, and the human habit. In other words, forms and practices of environmental protection and cultural heritage are themselves media of communication.

The call for submissions of paper abstracts of 800-1000 words is now open. The analysis could focus on media and communication technologies and their uses in the protection of ecology and cultural heritage or on practices of cultural heritage and environmental protection as media of communication. The symposium organizers encourage empirical studies that examine the practices and cultures of both citizens and institutions.

The 4th Symposium on Communication and Public: Communication, Ecology, and Cultural Heritage will be held at the Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing on June 7 and 8. Organizers will cover accommodation and meals in Beijing, as well as domestic travel in China. (International travel cannot be covered.)

All papers should be written and presented in English. Selected papers will be published as a special issue in Communication and the Public.

Submissions should be emailed to by February 28, 2018. Authors will be notified of results by March 10, 2018.

Please direct questions to any of the following organizers:

The symposium is organized by the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the College of Media and International Culture at Zhejiang University.