We read, watch, and listen to climate change stories all the time: scary stories, hopeful stories, stories that function on global and more intimate scales. And we can picture the images these stories conjure: polar bears on ice, shrinking glaciers, parched landscapes, displaced communities. In this course, we’re going to focus on climate change storytelling. What stories do people tell about climate change, and what are the stakes of these stories? Do some stories, angles, characters, or genres work better than others? (And what kind of work can climate change stories do?) This course takes as a starting premise that there is scientific consensus around the reality of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change. Though we’ll read plenty about the science of climate change, we won’t be studying the science; rather, we will explore climate change storytelling as a way to think about—and practice—constructing arguments, using evidence, and experimenting with form. Together we will examine how journalists, scholars, filmmakers, and scientists frame questions and construct narratives about climate change. We’ll also grapple with the place of storytelling in the public sphere, and add our own voices, stories, and arguments to contemporary conversations about climate change.

WRI 101: Writing Climate Change Fall 2015 syllabus here.

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High water mark of Hurricane Sandy, painted on garage doors in Jersey City, NJ. Photo by Amy Kohout, January 2015.