We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth; how dare you! — Greta Thunberg, at UN Summit in New York, September 2019

This independent study is a 6-credit graduate research course and focuses on the various perspectives where “media” and the “environment” intersect. This course will explore various theoretical frameworks, including media ecology, new materialism, environmental communication, eco-feminism, and media studies in contemporary environmental issues, communication, and media systems, etc. It also deals with how these perspectives from communication and media theories can affect strategic communication practices that aim to bolster long-term global environmental sustainability. Case studies will cover a diverse set of environmental topics, including climate change, environmental justice, the global industrial food system, public understandings of scientific risk, human-animal relations, and environmental media and journalism. Course materials will include interdisciplinary readings, drawn not only from communication and media studies but also from environmental studies, geography, sociology, the natural sciences, and other fields. Some journalistic materials, films, radio documentaries, and other multimedia materials will also be included.

The goal of this course is to access various conceptual frameworks for addressing questions about the relationship between the environment, culture, and communication. Therefore, this course will focus on addressing the following questions: How are environmental problems discussed and mediated within the public realm? How do these rhetorical and visual discourses structure our relationship to environmental crises? How can students create a communication strategy that frames environmental problems in a specific way in order to align the problem with appropriate solutions?

COMMS 596: Environmental Media and Climate Change