Communicating Environmental Issues
The discussion over environmental issues will only grow in importance over the course of our lifetime, as we navigate the global crises of climate disruption, mass extinction of species, genetic modification of life, pollution, and water and fossil fuel shortages. Often limited to the realm of science and technology, these issues must also begin to be recognized as political, moral, and social justice issues. The sustenance of life on earth relies not just on chemistry and biology but on cultural identity and belief systems that define who we are and what we care about. The process of communication is fundamental to constructing our values and relationships with the natural world and defining and framing issues, culprits, experts, and solutions as well as inspiring change. This recognition has spawned the burgeoning academic subfield of “environmental communication” to study environmental issues via media and film, journalism, public relations, advertising, rhetoric, images, art, and public participation and activism. In a broad sense, this class will examine:
- How communication constructs and maintains our worldviews and values on humanity, other animals, nature, and “the environment.”
- How these common worldviews cause material problems for all species and then discursively define and prioritize who matters, what gets recognized as a problem, and what that means.
- How media and communication are a fundamental aspect of the solution to create a more just and sustainable world, and how you can be a part of that change.