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Environmental Communications in the Anthropocene

Environmental scientists are increasingly called upon to participate in public conversations, in the media, and with policy makers. Environment 150 (Journalism, Science Communications, and New Media) is designed to give students the tools and understanding they need to communicate effectively.  The class will focus on technologies, methods, genres, and theories of communicating environmental challenges, exploring solutions, and engaging the public in newspapers, television, radio, movies, online, on mobile devices, and through social media.

jon christensenEnvironment 150 is led by Adjunct Assistant Professor Jon Christensen. Christensen is new to UCLA and holds joint faculty appointments with the IoES and Department of History. He stated, “The dawning realization that we live in an era in which human beings are definitively shaping the future of the earth, for better and for worse, and that we are simultaneously immersed in an ever-changing media landscape, compels us to contemplate new narratives, new media, and new modes of communicating with each other about our relationship with the rest of nature.”

Instruction will cover different types of media and the importance of communications for environmental science, policy, public understanding, and individual decision-making. Assignments include writing a news story and long-form article, composing a blog post, producing a podcast and video, and creating a social media campaign. Prominent media practitioners will deliver special lectures. Guest speakers include a digital strategist from the Smithsonian, editors from PBS NOVA and the Atlantic, and reporters from the New York Times.

The purpose of the course is to show students how to go from science to story. Professor Christensen’s principal task is to help students find their voice and use it to engage an audience. Environmental communication has the potential to inspire change on local and global scales and support efforts to protect the planet. Demonstrating how to make science matter is a chief aim of the class.  

By establishing this course the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability is providing solid training for the next generation of journalists, authors, broadcasters, web content creators, and filmmakers who will communicate about the environment and sustainability. Professor Christensen hopes the class will encourage an ongoing dialogue about the future of environmental communications. He said, “My goal is to contribute to a deep, rich ferment as we contemplate innovative environmental communications initiatives here at UCLA.”

Environment 150 – Journalism, Science Communications, and New Media will run Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. in La Kretz Hall Room 120. For Environmental Science majors this course fulfills the Humans & The Environment  requirement. Environmental Systems and Society minors can use this class for an upper-division elective.  To enroll click here. To learn more contact the IoES Student Affairs Officer at rdieckmann@ioes.ucla.edu or (310) 206-9193.