Embodied Risk in Technical Communication (Book Review)

Embodied Environmental Risk in Technical Communication: Problems and Solutions Toward Social Sustainability.
Edited by Steven Stinson and Mary Le Rouge. 2022. Routledge.  ISBN 9781032155494. 290 pages. US$44.95 (softcover).

If you are a practitioner or teacher working in the field of technical communication, environmental education, science communication, or public health, the material in Embodied Environmental Risk in Technical Communication will give you with a valuable perspective and great food for thought. Editors Le Rouge and Stinson provide a collection meant as stated on the back cover of Embodied Environmental Risk in Technical Communication “to provide an understanding of environmental risk that promotes social justice.” The editors consider how to improve technical communication through this understanding of environmental risk while promoting social justice. The editors organize the collection effectively into three groups covering:

  • Representations of the human body
  • Representations of Earth’s body
  • Representations of human beings and Earth together

As a reader might expect from a book on risk communication, the material in the section on representations of the human body deals in many cases with communication about the risks related to the recent issue of COVID-19 with one piece about how to communicate more effectively via email with college students about related risks.

In the section on representations on Earth’s body, one of the pieces is about communication about the risks – such as pollution – for the Ohio River. Issues raised include which organization defines the risk as typically it is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (p. 115). We can also look at how a regulatory agency defines risk in contrast to a non-profit. We can look at an example of risk communication from the EPA’s Great Lakes Initiative in explaining issues such as the risks associated with toxic algae blooms. We can ask – which groups best define and communicate risk – it is a governmental agency such the EPA or a local non-profit with volunteers. This is an example of the kinds of issues raised in this section of Embodied Environmental Risk in Technical Communication: Problems and Solutions Toward Social Sustainability.

Le Rouge is a member of the Conference on College Composition & Communication and its Environmental Special Interest Group and also director of writing at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has looked in her research for ways to improve communication between the public and policymakers. She has spoken at conferences about the difficulties that scientists face when communicating with the public about environmental issues. She received a PhD in English from Kent State, master’s degree in publishing from George Washington University, and bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio State. Stinton is assistant professor of English at Minot State University where he is coordinator of the English concentration in the M.Ed. program.

By Jeanette Evans