The Future of Manufactured Environmental Activism in the United States: Engaging People to Become Activists for a Biodiverse, Healthy, and Climate Secure Planet
Environmental activism is a well-defined pursuit, but it can also be intimidating. I know this from personal experience in environmental activism from 2016-2021. Through my research, I explore the potential of a new form of activism, one that is “manufactured” to increase public acceptance, interest, and support for a healthier environment. In this context, “manufactured” refers to the process of building something out of raw materials which, in the case of “manufactured environmental activism” is a good thing. With education, support, and guidance - with manufactured environmental activism - anyone who is passionate about the environment can make an impact. Anyone can gain the skills and knowledge and develop the network they need to turn their passion into something that has power. There is evidence that manufactured environmental activism is already taking place and that this new approach is well positioned to be integrated by the modern climate movement. My work for a nonprofit organization helped to shape my current thinking about manufactured activism as a concept. I intend for this thesis to add to the developing conversation among activists and the public of how environmental activism is changing in the United States, especially as a result of climate change and Covid, and in the context of a recent switch in political leadership.
The Future of Environmental Activism
Born From Vulnerability
This is an observational thesis that is born from experiences that led to a reconsideration of environmental activism. I built a theory from a set of elements that I collected to define what I call “Manufactured Environmental Activism''. It can increase public acceptance, interest, and support for a healthier environment. I created this term because I felt the need to identify my own experience within environmental activism. “Manufactured” was actually one of the first terms that came to mind. The word may appear cold and industrial, but within the term I dug deeper to discover aspects that were fitting what I wanted to describe. It is in fact somewhat paradoxical to what one might expect when they see it but manufactured environmental activism originated from vulnerability and the desire to feel included in something that made me feel less powerless. I decided to place a name to what I saw happening. There is importance in identifying manufactured environmental activism because it brings nuance and specificity to just one of the many strategies that generates groups of thoughtful activists. With a term that is used much more often, and rightly so, I feel that meanings of activism sometimes need to be revisited for the human experience.
Work Wildlife Fund Panda Ambassadors in Washington D.C.
In this context, “manufactured” refers to the process of building something out of raw materials which, in the case of “manufactured environmental activism” is a good thing. With education, support, and guidance - with manufactured environmental activism - anyone who is passionate about the environment can make an impact. Anyone can gain the skills and knowledge and develop the network they need to turn their passion into something that has power. “Manufactured environmental activism” has a support system that provides education and support for individuals from all backgrounds to become involved in advocating for a healthier environment; and shares the resources they need to be successful in either a nonprofit or on their own. This support includes opportunities for collaboration and specific training about activist strategies. The target audience are individuals who care about the environment and are seeking ways to become involved but do not know how to engage in environmental activism. Manufactured environmental activism creates activists that are confident to advocate for their cause because of the experiences they have in the organization. They are given various resources, opportunities for collaboration, and specific training about activist strategies. Manufactured Environmental Activism is not a method that replaces any existing ways of operating, but is another tool to face the climate crisis.
Kahului Beach Clean Up
Navigating the Multidimensional
The World Wildlife Fund “Activism and Outreach” team and their resources manufactured me as an environmental activist. I was created from their model of what activists should do and represent. And yes, that may sound odd. But also, they provided me with opportunities to make my own path. The strategies of manufactured activism are already being enacted by non-profit groups across the country. It doesn’t favor those of privilege or higher education. The gatekeeping properties that have existed to exclude environmental activists from connections to people in leadership don’t exist here. It will not speak over others, but alongside environmental defenders, indigenous communities, and those who work towards decolonization. The non-profit group, Fridays for Future, has a manifesto in which one segment reads, “Urgent climate action and assisting with adaptation is not an “honorable duty” or “solidarity” it’s reparations for the injustices high income nations and sectors have caused through their exploitation”. It will be important to recognize that this creation, this manufacturing, is a major tool in the modern environmental movement.
World Wildlife Fund Activists
- Design Engineering
- Digital + Media
- Furniture Design
- Global Arts and Cultures
- Graphic Design
- Industrial Design
- Interior Architecture
- Jewelry + Metalsmithing
- Landscape Architecture
- Nature-Culture-Sustainability Studies