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:

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 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. 

  • Kimmerer, R. W. (2014). “Returning the Gift.” Center for Humans and Nature.
  • 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.
  • Wang, J., Geng, L. P., & Wesley Schultz, P., & Zhou, K. (2019). Mindfulness increases the belief in climate change: The mediating role of connectedness with nature. Environment and Behavior 51(1), 3-23.
  • Zuroski, E. (2020). “‘Where do you know from?’: An exercise in placing ourselves together in the classroom.” MAI Feminism and Visual Culture

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. 

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, with one component of that process being understanding who is in the position to facilitate the process of establishing trust within various communities. 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)
  • Connor, P.; Harris, E.; Guy, S.; Fernando, J.; Shank, D.; Kurz, T.; Bain, P.; Kashima, Y. (2016). Interpersonal communication about climate change: How messages change when communicated through simulated online social networks. Climatic Change 136(3-4), 463–476.
  • 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.
  • Kagawa-Viviani, Aurora. (2019). Maunakea: Redirecting the lens onto the culture of mainstream science. Medium: Science.
  • Siegle, L. & Mustil, T. (2020). Episode 3: Hail Marys! (+Amy). So hot right now. [Podcast].  (80 min.)

Recommended supplemental materials:

  • Maibach, E., Roser-Renouf, C, & Leiswerowitz, A. (2009). Global warming’s six Americas 2009: An audience segmentation analysis. Yale Project on Climate Change.

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 levels and kinds of access, capacity, 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 knowledge. 

Recommended supplemental materials:

Week 6: The Science of Story I

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. 

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 Science of Story II

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.

  • Cunningham Bigler, K. (2017). Jumpstart your story with the story spine. Curiographic.
  • 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].
  • 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. 
  • Storytelling. (2009). First Nations Pedagogy

Recommended supplemental materials:

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”? 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. 

  • Amelung, D., Fischer, H. Kruse, Lenelis and Sauerborn, R. (2016). Defogging climate change communication: How cognitive research can promote effective climate communication. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 1340.
  • Armstrong, A. K., Schuldt, J. P., & Krasny, M. E. (2018). Using metaphor and analogy in climate change communication. Communicating climate change: A guide for educators. Cornell University Press.
  • Kimmerer, R. W. (2017). Speaking of nature: Finding language that affirms our kinship with the natural world. Orion Magazine.
  • Siegle, L. & Mustil, T. (2020). Episode 7: War of the Words. So hot right now. [Podcast]. (78 min.)

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. 

  • Explore the impacts. (2020). Outrider. Retrieved from https://outrider.org/climate-change/interactive/climate-change (Available in Spanish/Español)
  • ltinay, Z. (2017). Visual communication of climate change: Local framing and place attachment. Coastal Management 45(4), 293-309.
  • Kamber, M. & Rivera, C. (2020). Trump revolution: Climate crisis.
  • Menzies, C.R. (2006). Introduction: Understanding ecological knowledge. Traditional ecological knowledge and natural resource management. University of Nebraska Press, 1-17.
  • 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 supplemental materials:

  • Lustgarten, Abrahm. (2020). “Where will everyone go?” Propublica July 23, 2020.
  • McCandless, D. (2012). The beauty of data visualization. Ted-Ed.
  • O’Neill, S., & Nicholson-Cole, S. (2009). “Fear won’t do it”: Promoting positive engagement with climate change through visual and iconic representations. Science Communication 30(3), 355-379.
  • This is what sea level rise will do to coastal cities. (2019). Verge Science.
  • Turner, N. J., Boelscher Ignace, M., & Ignace R. (2000). Traditional ecological knowledge and wisdom of aboriginal peoples in British Columbia. Ecological Applications 10(5), 1275-1287. 

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 is that done? What are the benefits and drawbacks of using either? What sits well with you as a communicator? How might it effectively mobilize your own climate communication strategies?

Brand, D. (2020). On narrative, reckoning and the calculus of living and dying. The Star.

Brave NoiseCat, J. (2020). How to survive an apocalypse and keep dreaming. The Nation.

Gripping Films. (2019). Protect, Restore, Fund.

Heglar, M.A. (2019). Home is always worth it. Medium Environment.

Hull, A. (2019). Hopepunk and solarpunk: On climate narratives that go beyond the apocalypse. LitHub.

Wallace-Wells, D. (2017). The uninhabitable earth, annotated edition. New York Magazine.

Whyte, K. P. (2018). Indigenous science (fiction) for the Anthropocene: Ancestral dystopias and fantasies of climate change crises. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 1 (1-2), 224-242.

Recommended supplemental materials:

Holthaus, E. (2020). In 2030, we ended the climate emergency. Here’s how. The Correspondent.

Siegle, L. & Mustil, T. (2020). Episode 2: An optimism workout with Christiane Figueres. So hot right now. [Podcast]. (49 min.)