Communicating Sustainability

An International Conversation for Sustainability Activists

September 6-7, 2022

Call for Proposals – Deadline extended to June 25, 2022

Register by August 15, 2022


In collaboration with the University of Glasgow in Scotland and the Universidade Federal de Sergipe in Brazil, Goucher College is pleased to invite proposals for an international discussion of case studies, round table discussions, and papers that contribute to a deeper understanding of sustainability work across sectors.

Sustainability, defined as the ability to persist and thrive over a long period of time, is often framed around four pillars; social equity, economic development, environmental protection, and cultural sustainability.[1] In 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 interlinked Sustainable Development Goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". The goals identify actions for issues that cut across multiple sectors of society (poverty, hunger, education, climate action, cultural equity, gender equality, social justice, and more) and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. In the US, resistance to sustainability goals has risen, often perceived as a conspiracy for taking away freedoms and property rights. One of its most outspoken critics, American Policy Center president Tom DeWeese, describes a sustainability agenda as “a new kind of tyranny that, if not stopped, will surely lead us to a new Dark Ages of pain and misery yet unknown to mankind.” Others see sustainability efforts as critical to our survival as a species.

A chasm exists; no one desires mutual destruction and we must find a way to build a bridge between such divergent perspectives. What is it about the concept of “sustainability” that is confusing to people and creates concern? Is there a way for people who work towards sustainability goals to develop solid connections for mutual success rather than build walls?

This two-day gathering welcomes proposals from all who work in sustainability efforts, whether your focus is cultural, environmental, economic, or social. Join us to share your experiences, challenges, solutions, and stories. We are especially interested in case studies and round table discussions that generate interaction and practical application.

[1] Hawkes, Jon. 2001. The Fourth Pillar of Sustainability: Culture's Essential Role in Public Planning, Common Ground Publishing Pty Ltd in association with the Cultural Development Network, Melbourne, Australia.

Topics Might Include:

  • Cultural sustainability
  • Environmental Justice
  • Cultural Policy
  • Place-based activism (i.e. urban farming, maritime traditions)
  • Storytelling as a form of communication
  • Local Knowledge and Policy
  • Community Conservation
  • Partnerships and collaborations
  • Community Documentation
  • Multi-vocality
  • Indigenous Climate Activism
  • Cultural Equity
  • Power dynamics
  • Local/Global tensions
  • Government/NGO collaborations
  • Environmental Education
  • Climate migration
  • Climate Education
  • Oral History
  • Arts activism
  • Complex Systems Thinking
  • Funding


The gathering includes in-person and virtual interactions with colleagues in three hubs: Scotland, Brazil, and the United States.

On Day One, each hub will host its own event with speakers addressing the theme from their own perspectives. The US gathering at Goucher College will be in-person on our 287-acre campus north of Baltimore. We invite diverse presentation formats including case studies, roundtable discussions, and posters across sectors exploring multiple ways to communicate sustainability. Proposal formats include:

  • Case Studies – (60 minutes). Case studies are presentations of current sustainability work in a community, whether successful or unsuccessful. This may involve several people from different sectors working in the same community or one person offering an overview and laying out key issues/questions. Case studies should present your sustainability goals, organizing processes, partnerships, communication strategies, and the actions, as well as questions you would like to explore with conference attendees. Case studies are an opportunity to workshop challenges and collectively seek insights and solutions.

  • Roundtable Discussions – (90 minutes). These sessions offer an opportunity for deeper conversations around key issues or challenges (not necessarily rooted in a particular community or place) in communicating about sustainability, within or across sectors. You may pull together three or four people to present differing perspectives. Examples might include teaching about sustainability, developing narratives that move people to action, bridging language and knowledge differences, etc. Roundtable discussions are facilitated to encourage multiple voices and perspectives.

  • Posters – (10 minutes). Individual presentations that explore practical or theoretical approaches to sustainability, particularly to issues of communication within sustainability work. Presentations that explore moments of growth are especially encouraged. These will be displayed in a gallery format throughout the day with an opportunity for presentations in the afternoon.

In addition to these concurrent sessions, we anticipate a facilitated closing plenary session that will summarize lessons learned from the day’s conversations. Questions to be explored throughout the day include:

(i) How is sustainability interpreted and represented in multiple sectors?

(ii) Who are the principal voices in the discussion?

(iii) What are the main obstacles in communicating their understandings and needs to others?

(iv) What innovative solutions can we offer to address those obstacles?

Day Two will draw on the summaries from Day One, especially our responses to the above questions. We will join participants from the hubs in Scotland and Brazil for an international, multi-disciplinary discussion to explore cross-cutting issues and develop strategies and next steps for communication and negotiation between sectors.

Anticipated Schedule

Day One (Goucher College, United States)

  • 9:30 am – Welcome and Storytelling Session
  • 10:30 am – First Case Study
  • 11:30 am – Individual Presentations
  • 12:30 pm – Lunch provided on Goucher’s campus
  • 1:15 pm – Poster Session
  • 2:15 pm – Second Case Study
  • 3:15 pm – Breakout Sessions
  • 4:15 pm – Brainstorming about Lessons Learned
  • 5:00 pm – Until Tomorrow
  • 5:30 pm – Sustainability Happy Hour

Day Two – We will continue to be in person on Goucher’s campus and will join virtually with our colleagues in Scotland and Brazil

  • 10:00 am – Brunch Connections: Fuel Up and Catch Up with Colleague, Friends, and Peers Across Diverse Sectors of the Sustainability Fields
  • 11:00 am – Catalysts and Inspirations
  • 12:00 pm – Cross-Cutting Conversations
  • 1:00 pm – Planning for What’s Next
  • 2:00 pm – Until We Meet Again

Call for Proposals

To view the Call for Proposals for Scotland and Brazil click here.

Submit your Proposal by June 25, 2022. You may propose your own presentation, or you may organize a roundtable discussion with up to 4 additional speakers.

Submit your Proposal


Register as a participant by August 15, 2022. Registrants will receive coffee/tea and lunch on both days, free parking on campus, and post-conference access to recordings of the events from all three hubs.

Register Here