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Casting Pebbles in a Pond: A Study of Opinion Leader Training to Reduce Carbon Footprints in Social Networks

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Although we know what actions are required to reduce our fossil fuel dependency, climate change campaigns have generally been unable to narrow the value-action gap between knowledge and political efficacy. The literature indicates that social justice organizations are well positioned to train opinion leaders to deliver climate change messaging to their social networks, however, little research has been conducted on whether this two-step model of communication is effective in climate change campaigns. I sought to address this gap through a case study of the pilot Climate Leadership Project run by the social justice organization Next Up. I explored and assessed the project's training of climate change ambassadors based on interviews with the project's director and participants. Among my conclusions is that such a movement may well be grounded in the most prosaic of actions: People talking with one another through their social networks, either one-on-one or in small groups; the realization of the paramount importance that emotions play in climate change campaigns; the significance of social norms as they relate to our response on climate change; how the two-step model of communication could improve the uptake of political efficacy; and the value of reframing climate change as a social justice issue.
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Copyright is held by the author.
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Gunster, Shane
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