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Readings Overview

This readings overview is provided as an openly-available list of the readings for this course.

Current registered students should access the official readings list for this course: use the links provided below the resources menu, or in Moodle.

Prior to the course launch date these readings are subject to change. For additional resources, please refer to the CALS 501 resources and readings page.

Required Readings and Resources:

Note: Readings are not always arranged alphabetically as they would be in APA formatting, but in suggested order of reading. While not strictly necessary to read in this order, many of the readings will build on previous readings and be more accessible if read in the suggested order.

Week 1: Welcome and Introductions

The first week will introduce the interdisciplinary nature of the field of climate change communication, with an emphasis on holistic approaches to how this course specifically, and communication in times of crisis more broadly, needs to speak to different people and groups of people. This requires situated multi-modal approaches that are most effective and sustainable when executed from multiple angles, methods, and worldviews, which is to say, through transdisciplinary thinking and collaboration. 

Recommended supplemental materials:


Week 2: The State of Climate Science Communication

The second week will deepen the inquiry into the field of climate communication, reflecting on and assessing the current status of the field, what questions are being asked, what has been shown to work, and what further areas remain to be examined. 

  • Bennet, A., Hatch, C., & Pike, C. (2021). Climate messaging that works. Climate Narratives Initiative.
  • Moser, S .C. (2016). Reflections on climate change communication research and practice in the second decade of the 21st century: What more is there to say? WIREs Climate Change May/June, 345-369.
  • Howarth, C., Parsons, L., & Thew, H. (2020). Effectively communicating climate science beyond academia: Harnessing the heterogeneity of climate knowledge. One Earth 2(4), 320-324. 
  • Manyozo, L. (2018). The context is the message: Theory of Indigenous Knowledge Communication Systems. Javnost: The Public 25(4), 393-409.

Recommended supplemental materials:


Week 3: Story as Ontology

Story is far more expansive than just an imaginative telling of events that have or could transpire. It is an ontological activity, meaning that it brings things—ways of life and ways of knowing, different worlds and relationships—into being. This week examines the nature of storytelling from multiple perspectives, while underscoring the need for new and multiple kinds of stories in the effort to communicate and lead climate change action.

Recommended supplemental materials:


Week 4: Trust & Dialogue

A significant component of effective climate communication is understanding the perspectives and concerns of those with whom one communicates, or with those whom one is in shared dialogue, which is also a backbone of transdisciplinary research and practice. This means establishing trust. This week examines how to begin to cultivate trust, as well as the nature of dialoguing with people who acknowledge (or not) the climate emergency from different positions and needs. 

  • Armstrong, A. K., Schuldt, J. P., & Krasny, M. E. (2018).  Establishing trust. Communicating climate change: A guide for educators.: Cornell University Press. Ebook. (1 page)
  • Global warming’s six Americas. (2020). Yale program on climate change communication.
  • Hine, D.W. et al. (2016). Preaching to different choirs: How to motivate dismissive, uncommitted, and alarmed audiences to adapt to climate change? Global Environmental Change 36, 1-11.
  • Lewandowsky, S. (2020). Climate change disinformation and how to combat it. Annual Review of Public Health 42, 1-21.

Recommended supplemental materials:

  • Treen, K.M., Williams, H.T.P., & O’Neill, S.J. (2020). Online misinformation about climate change. WIREs Climate Change 11(5), 1-20.


Week 5: Climate Science Communication and Accessibility

The work of communicating about the climate crisis is a task that requires addressing and including multiple groups of people with varying kinds of access, capacity, needs, and education. The unit will examine questions of accessibility and will contend with inclusive design, i.e., producing content that is accessible to multiple audiences, rights-holders, and collaborators with different capacities and abilities. This will include, for example, developing strategies for communicating across formats (e.g., visual, textual, aural etc.), adapting ready-at-hand communication to new formats, and responding to the needs of people with differing disabilities in order to justly share and co-create knowledge.

Recommended supplemental materials:


Week 6: The Science of Story

Beginning with the assertion that the climate movement needs storytelling, this week examines the science behind how and why storytelling works as a communication strategy. We consider good practices for how to tell stories about climate change, alongside research into how stories engage various groups in action oriented towards climate change. Storytelling is understood to be a powerful strategy for communication, and this week breaks down some of the evidence behind how that works. 

  • Armstrong, A. K., Schuldt, J. P., & Krasny, M. E. (2018).  Framing climate change. Communicating climate change: A guide for educators. Cornell University Press. Ebook available at the Royal Roads library. (10 pages)
  • Dill-Shackleford, K.E., Vinney, C., Hopper-Losenicky, K. (2016). Connecting the dots between fantasy and reality: The social psychology of our engagement with fictional narrative and its functional value. Social and Personality Psychology Compass 10(11), 634-646.
  • McRaney, D. (2017). YANSS 113: Narrative Persuasion. You Are Not So Smart. [Podcast].  
  • McRaney, D. (2017). YANSS 113: Narrative Persuasion. [Transcript of podcast].
  • Sundin, A., Andersson, K., & Watt, R. (2018). Rethinking communication: integrating storytelling for increasing stakeholder engagement in environmental evidence synthesis. Environmental Evidence 7(6), 1-6.

Recommended supplemental materials:

  • Hinyard, L. J., & Kreuter, M. W. (2007). Using narrative communication as a tool for health behavior change: a conceptual, theoretical, and empirical overview. Health Education & Behavior, 34(5), 777-792.
  • Moezzi, M., Janda, K. B., & Rotmann, S. (2017). Using stories, narratives, and storytelling in energy and climate change research. Energy Research & Social Science 31, 1-10.


Week 7: The Craft of Story

The science of story is more than just evidence for how story works in the service of persuasion, but includes understanding the social elements of storytelling, or how story works on people, and some tools and techniques for beginning to tell effective stories. Everyone has the capacity to tell moving and engaging stories; in fact we all do it all the time without really thinking about when we tell our friends about something that happened at work or school, for example. But understanding narrative structure through careful attention to a few key moves that propel stories forward in compelling ways can streamline the process of communicating and generating or facilitating dialogue between different perspectives.

Recommended supplemental materials:

  • Cunningham Bigler, K. (2017). Jumpstart your story with the story spine. Curiographic.
  • O’Hara, C. (2014). How to tell a great story. Harvard Business Review.
  • Rotman, S. (2017). “Once upon a time…” Eliciting energy and behaviour change stories using a fairy tale story spine. Energy Research & Social Science, 31, 303-310. 


Week 8: Language

Language is often political and often powerful. What words we use and how we name things shapes dialogue and communication in particular ways, according to particular ideologies. For example, what is the difference between saying “climate change” compared to “climate crisis,” or “global warming” compared to “global heating”? What do we mean by “normal,” or “new normal”? This unit considers the different approaches to language in climate communication in order to better grapple with the messages we seek to craft and share with people, in a way that resonates emotionally and politically with both what is happening at large scale with respect to the impacts of climate change, and with people who come with their own sense of what is or is not happening, and is or is not relevant to them.

Recommended supplemental materials:


Week 9: Place and Visual Representation

As the Tiny Ecology Project works to make clear, place and ideas of a place are central to understanding climate change, as well as the impacts of climate change that motivate people and communities to respond proactively. Grounding communication in place, especially local place, is a powerful tool for eliciting behaviour change and engagement. From multiple perspectives, this week’s content examines some of the specific elements of place-based communication, including the power of traditional ecological knowledge, while also considering the role of the visual (e.g., data visualization, documentary photography, etc.) in communicating climate change.

  • Garramon Merkle, B. (2019). Writing science: Best practices for the images that accompany your writing. Ecological Society of America 100(2), 1-7.
  • ltinay, Z. (2017). Visual communication of climate change: Local framing and place attachment. Coastal Management 45(4), 293-309.
  • O’Neill, S. (2020). More than meets the eye: a longitudinal analysis of climate change imagery in the print media. Climatic Change 163, 9-26.
  • Schroth, O.; Angel, J.; Sheppard, S.; Dulic, A. (2014). Visual climate change communication: From Iconography to Locally Framed 3D Visualization. Environmental Communication 8(4), 413-432.

Recommended visual example materials:


Week 10: Frames of Hope and Fear

The final week examines the different emotional angles from which one can approach climate communication to consider how and where these angles may be more or less effective. Do fear narratives drive action? Or is it necessary to generate hope, and how is that done? What are the benefits and drawbacks of using either? What sits well with you as a communicator? How might different frames effectively mobilize your own climate communication strategies?

Recommended supplemental materials: