IGA 451M: Controversies in Climate, Energy, and the Media: Improving Public Communication

The media play a unique role in shaping public understanding, policy, and political debate about controversial climate, energy, and environmental issues around the world. However, as mainstream news outlets shrink, the Internet provides a growing global megaphone for confusing and often contradictory information and opinion. This course is designed to help students navigate the rapidly changing media landscape, using examples from current global energy and environmental debates. Media topics include climate change and extreme weather; science and climate denialism; the natural gas revolution and fracking; energy, climate and development; renewable energy; nuclear power; and the changing Arctic. Analyses of media coverage will examine how complex policy issues (involving environmental, health and economic risks/benefits) become polarized and how public communication could be improved. Increasingly, all professionals in the public and private sectors—by choice or necessity—need to become better communicators in conventional and social media. Practical communication, writing and media strategies/skills will include a class blog and role-play exercise. Guest speakers add real-world perspectives. Lessons from this course apply readily to other public policy issues as well.


Cristine Russell







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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2019-2020 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.

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