Using More Positive Environmental Language

28th February 2019

A group of our consultants have completed an online course in Ecolinguistics, which is aimed at providing new ways of thinking about how ecological issues are presented in the media, academia, and beyond. The course culminated in a visit from its creator, Professor Arran Stibbe.

Based on Professor Stibbe’s book Ecolinguistics: language, ecology and the stories we live by and funded by the University of Gloucestershire and the International Ecolinguistics Association, the free course examines eight ways in which language encodes the stories society tells itself: ideologies, framings, metaphors, evaluations, identities, convictions, erasure and salience. The materials include video introductions, linguistic examples drawn from a wide range of texts, group discussions and exercises.

The past four months has seen staff from all levels and areas of the company coming together to work their way through the course content and participate in lively discussions around the divisive issues brought up by the content. Our lunchtime sessions quickly became the highlight of the working week, so we were naturally delighted when, after getting in touch with Professor Stibbe to express our thanks for the course, he offered to visit our Bristol office to talk about applying ecolinguistics to the work we undertake.

Professor Stibbe gave a 30 minute presentation on the course, with special content and examples specific to Eunomia. In thinking about how we might apply what we’ve learned, he asked us to consider how we can help businesses to rethink the stories they are based on and to ask how we might shift their core values rather than just their environmental practices. Following the presentation, there was a 30 minute group discussion around the challenges we face in integrating ecolinguistics into our work, including how we present broader environmental stories in our reports.

Professor Arran Stibbe said:

“It was fascinating to meet the people at Eunomia and discuss how my research into ecolinguistics can be applied to the hands-on environmental work they undertake on a daily basis. I really enjoyed our discussion and came away thinking that Eunomia is a highly reflective, engaged and enlightened company. I hope to work with them in the future.”

Trainee Consultant Jack Hedger said:

“I found that ecolinguistics encourages analysis from a perspective that is so often overlooked, providing the tools to give new insight into the stories that we’re told and tell ourselves. The course gives a framework for many fruitful discussions, and exploring how these lessons can be integrated into the professional realm will be an exciting process for the coming months.”

Principal Consultant Peter Jones said:

“Communicating about environmental issues is a huge part of what Eunomia does, and studying ecolinguistics has posed some provocative questions about the way that we do it. As part of our marketing team, the issue is especially resonant for me. Completing the course has led me to challenge some of my assumptions about the best way for us to convey messages. The environmental problems we face are important and urgent, and the language we use needs to convey that, while remaining professional and factually-grounded.”

Anyone interested in taking the course can find further information on the website The Stories We Live By.