An emergent communication strategy to accelerate the transition to ecological sustainability

  • Bernardine Mary Claire Atkinson

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This project investigates how to accelerate our transition to ecological sustainability. It examines three opportunities to do so: the theoretical potential of captology; the creation of an ecologically-sustainable private transport fleet; and, political participatory action to aid policy development. In examining captology – using computers to change behaviours, attitudes and values – it became apparent that the legacy of post-modern discourse generated vast uncertainty about establishing definitive ethical frameworks. Post-modernism holds that truth is ‘subjective’ and ethics ‘relative’. However, a reinterpretation of Descartes’ work enables one to postulate that subjective experience is a component of objective knowledge and that objectivity is communally, lexicographically established through truth-telling. Furthermore, ethical principles can be empirically grounded. They are derived from our values which, although esoteric and removed from their experientially-grounded origins, can largely be determined by reflecting upon the conditions that create individual happiness and contentment. To apply these principles, a captological design manifesto was nominated, extending the ‘ecological imperative’ to include a command to action that recognised a trio of opportunities to ‘make whole’ individuals, communities and ecosystems. The project’s practical dimensions, using futuristic scenario, the idea of ‘story-telling for sustainability’ and political participatory action, investigated how to create an ecologically-sustainable private transport fleet. However, implementing any new transport regime depends upon Australia adopting a reliable high-grade energy source to replace fossil-fuels and this required assessing, then dispelling, nuclear myths. Extending the ‘triple bottom line’ to a ‘quintuplet’ of principles that included energy efficiency principles and bio-diverse biomass replenishment demonstrates the truth of this decision. Implementing these recommendations to accelerate the transition to ecological sustainability involved a political participatory action strategy and making appropriate representations relating to the assertion of responsible and informed political leadership, not that which responds to the lowest common denominator of information, public opinion polls.
    Date of AwardApr 2008
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBruce Campbell (Supervisor)

    Cite this