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Climate Crisis and Media

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Course Number
COMM 290 920
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Course Key
Course Description
Climate change—or, what is increasingly referred to as the “climate crisis” and “climate emergency”—is an urgent yet extremely difficult problem to communicate. Heeding this urgency, young people from around the world are taking to the streets and demanding political action from older generations who steadfastly stick to the status quo. Curiously, though, many young activists are choosing to use the very same environmental slogans and images that have been around for over thirty years (i.e. burning globes, doomsday landscapes, and apocalyptic scenarios). How did these particular methods of climate communication emerge? And to what impact in terms of both public perception and policy? In this course, students will examine the historical development of climate communication within the United States from its origins in 1989 to present day. Readings and case studies will draw upon journalistic reporting, film, photography, visual art, longform non-fiction, and popular public scholarship. Students will learn how climate change is discussed, visualized, and reported in the United States and develop possible means and methods for improvement. The final project will consist of the choice of either a traditional scholarly paper (8-10 pages long) or a creative project (i.e. short film, journalistic series of articles, painting, etc.) depending on students’ interests.    
Subject Area Vocab