The State of Environmental Communication Research: An Analysis of Published Studies in the Communication Disciplines


Ki, E.-J., Shin, S., & Oh, J. (2022). The State of Environmental Communication Research: An Analysis of Published Studies in the Communication Disciplines. Journal of Intelligent Communication, 2(1).


  • Eyun-Jung Ki
    Department of Advertising and Public Relations, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 35487, USA
  • Sumin Shin School of Media and Strategic Communications, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, 74078, USA
  • Jeyoung Oh Department of Language and Communication, University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, Michigan, 48502, USA

The purpose of this investigation was to systematically evaluate environmental communication studies across the communication-related disciplines. This study achieved the goal by examining published articles in 28 journals from the time period spanning 1973-2014. A total of 142 articles were evaluated based on an analysis of authorial, topical, theoretical, and methodological information. The findings demonstrate exponential growth in the number of environmental communication studies in recent years. A wide range of scholars and institutions has contributed to this area of research. A majority of the articles focused on environmental issues. The outcome of this study could provide a comprehensive picture of communication-based environmental research and guide the directions of future research in this area.


Environmental communication Sustainability Systematic literature review


  1. PSRA. 2000. Poll. 2015. Retrieved from http://www.
  2. Allen, M., 2016. Strategic communication for sustainable organizations. Theory and Practice. Fayetteville, USA: University of Arkansas.
  3. Pleasant, A., Good, J., Shanahan, J., et al., 2002. The literature of environmental communication. Public Understanding of Science. 11(2), 197-205.
  4. Godemann, J., Michelsen, G., 2011. Sustainability communication–an introduction. Sustainability communication. Springer, Dordrecht. 3-11.
  5. Cox, R., 2006. Environmental communication and the public sphere. (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
  6. Pedelty, M., 2015. Environmental communication and the public sphere. Environmental Communication. 9(1), 139-142.
  7. Althoff, P., Greig, W.H., Stuckey, F., 1973. Environmental pollution control attitudes of media managers in Kansas. Journalism Quarterly. 50(4), 666-672.
  8. Feeley, T.H., 2008. A bibliometric analysis of communication journals from 2002 to 2005. Human Communication Research. 34(3), 505-520.
  9. Khang, H., Ki, E.J., Ye, L., 2012. Social media research in advertising, communication, marketing, and public relations, 1997–2010. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. 89(2), 279-298.
  10. Noruzi, A., 2005. Google Scholar: The new generation of citation indexes. Libri. 55(4), 170-180.
  11. Kim, K., Hayes, J.L., Avant, J.A., et al., 2014. Trends in advertising research: a longitudinal analysis of leading advertising, marketing, and communication journals, 1980 to 2010. Journal of Advertising. 43(3), 296-316.
  12. Cohen, J., 1960. A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement. 20(1), 37-46.
  13. Pasadeos, Y., Renfro, R.B., Hanily, M.L., 1999. Influential authors and works of the public relations scholarly literature: a network of recent research. Journal of Public Relations Research. 11(1), 29-52.
  14. McComas, K., Shanahan, J., 1999. Telling stories about global climate change: measuring the impact of narratives on issue cycles. Communication Research. 26(1), 30-57.
  15. Shrum, L., McCarty, J.A., Lowrey, T.M., 1995. Buyer characteristics of the green consumer and their implications for advertising strategy. Journal of Advertising. 24(2), 71-82.
  16. Carlson, L., Grove, S.J., Kangun, N., 1993. A content analysis of environmental advertising claims: a matrix method approach. Journal of Advertising. 22(3), 27-39.
  17. Ader, C.R., 1995. A longitudinal study of agenda setting for the issue of environmental pollution. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. 72(2), 300- 311.
  18. Banerjee, S., Gulas, C.S., Iyer, E., 1995. Shades of green: a multidimensional analysis of environmental advertising. Journal of Advertising. 24(2), 21-31.
  19. Cantrill, J.G., 1998. The environmental self and a sense of place: communication foundations for regional ecosystem management. Journal of Applied Communication Research. 26(3), 301-318.
  20. Schuhwerk, M.E., Lefkoff-Hagius, R., 1995. Green or non-green? Does type of appeal matter when advertising a green product?. Journal of Advertising. 24(2), 45-54.
  21. Bortree, D.S., Seltzer, T., 2009. Dialogic strategies and outcomes: an analysis of environmental advocacy groups’ Facebook profiles. Public Relations Review. 35(3), 317-319.
  22. Bennett, W.L., Lawrence, R.G., 1995. News icons and the mainstreaming of social change. Journal of Communication. 45(3), 20-39.
  23. Obermiller, C., 1995. The baby is sick/the baby is well: a test of environmental communication appeals. Journal of Advertising. 24(2), 55-70.
  24. Signitzer, B., Prexl, A., 2007. Corporate sustainability communications: aspects of theory and professionalization. Journal of Public Relations Research. 20(1), 1-19.
  25. Fung, T.K., Brossard, D., Ng, I., 2011. There is water everywhere: how news framing amplifies the effect of ecological worldviews on preference for flooding protection policy. Mass Communication and Society. 14(5), 553-577.
  26. Arcury, T.A., Johnson, T.P., Scollay, S.J., 1986. Ecological worldview and environmental knowledge: the “new environmental paradigm”. The Journal of Environmental Education. 17(4), 35-40.
  27. Kluckhohn, F.R., Strodtbeck, F.L., 1961. Variations in value orientations.
  28. Good, J., 2007. Shop’til we drop? television, materialism and attitudes about the natural environment. Mass Communication & Society. 10(3), 365-383.
  29. McKibben, B., 1989. The End of. Nature. Anchor Books, Doubleday.
  30. Minton, E., Lee, C., Orth, U., et al., 2012. Sustainable marketing and social media: a cross-country analysis of motives for sustainable behaviors. Journal of Advertising. 41(4), 69-84.
  31. Brundtland, G.H., 1987. Our common future—Call for action. Environmental Conservation. 14(4), 291- 294.
  32. Kilbourne, W.E., 1995. Green advertising: salvation or oxymoron?. Journal of Advertising. 24(2), 7-20.
  33. Lacy, S., Riffe, D., Varouhakis, M., 2007. Where do Ohioans get their environmental news? Newspaper Research Journal. 28(1), 70-84.
  34. Xue, F., Zhou, P., 2012. Greener on the other side? a comparative content analysis of environmental claims in magazine advertisements in China and the United States. Journal of Magazine & New Media Research. 13(2).
  35. Sheehan, K., Atkinson, L., 2012. Special issue on green advertising: revisiting green advertising and the reluctant consumer. Journal of Advertising. 41(4), 5-7.
  36. Shanahan, J., McCOMAS, K., 1997. Television’s portrayal of the environment: 1991–1995. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. 74(1), 147-159.
  37. Bryant, J., Miron, D., 2004. Theory and research in mass communication. Journal of Communication. 54(4), 662-704.