School of Communication and the Arts
Master of Arts in Strategic Communication (MA)
environmentalism, social movement, NRDC, Generation Z, sustainability, social media
Vanden Brink, Emma Jean, "The Stages of Environmentalism and How the Movement Can Be Maintained Through Generation Z" (2021). Masters Theses. 808.
The state of a social movement is characterized by the stages through which it progresses. The environmentalism movement began hundreds of years ago when humans first noticed how significantly their actions influenced the nature around them. The movement advanced with the arrival of the industrial era and modern society. According to Stewart et al. (2012), there are five main stages through which a social movement proceeds: genesis, social unrest, enthusiastic mobilization, maintenance, and termination. Today, environmentalism is in the maintenance stage, as determined by the current organizational structure of the movement. The objective of this study was to determine how environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council can target the values of Generation Z. By doing so, the organization can recruit Gen Z supporters to keep the movement in the maintenance stage long-term, avoiding termination. The researcher distributed a survey to a group of students at a large private university on the east coast. Participants were asked to answer nine multiple-choice questions and one open-ended question. These responses gave the researcher insight into the values of Gen Z and how the NRDC can focus on these to effectively recruit Gen Z supporters through social media tactics and organizational changes. These findings can be practically applied to other organizations and groups hoping to capture the attention and loyalty of Gen Z.