Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 362–367 | Cite as

Environmental engagement in troubled times: a manifesto

  • James D. ProctorEmail author
  • Jennifer Bernstein
  • Philip Brick
  • Emma Brush
  • Susan Caplow
  • Kenneth Foster


These are troubled times: our scholarly efforts in environmental studies and sciences seem under assault on all fronts. Yet we argue not just for environmental action, but for greater emphasis on environmental engagement as a foundation for effective action. The etymology of engagement suggests connection, commitment, and communication—a risky yet indispensable ingredient of effective action. We exemplify this approach to environmental engagement in four contexts of increasing scope: within our environmental studies and sciences community, across the college campus, among our fellow Americans, and at the global scale. In all such contexts, engagement is no end-run around conflict; it is political just like any form of action. Yet by engaging, we can be the environmental leadership that is so plainly missing and desperately needed to produce meaningful change.


Engagement Activism Politics Environmental studies and sciences Higher education United States Globalism 



We wish to honor input and inspiration provided by our colleagues as part of ongoing face to face and digital conversations on engagement, and via a set of environmental engagement workshops and presentation panels held at the Association for Environmental Studies & Sciences Annual Conference, June 2017, University of Arizona. We also appreciate the helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© AESS 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James D. Proctor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jennifer Bernstein
    • 2
  • Philip Brick
    • 3
  • Emma Brush
    • 4
  • Susan Caplow
    • 5
  • Kenneth Foster
    • 6
  1. 1.Environmental Studies ProgramLewis & Clark CollegePortlandUSA
  2. 2.Spatial Sciences InstituteUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Environmental Studies Department, Politics DepartmentWhitman CollegeWalla WallaUSA
  4. 4.The Breakthrough InstituteOaklandUSA
  5. 5.Department of Behavioral and Social SciencesUniversity of MontevalloMontevalloUSA
  6. 6.Department of Political ScienceConcordia CollegeMoorheadUSA

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