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COURSE NAME: "Media and the Environment"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Antonio Lopez
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 10:00 AM 11:15 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: COM 220

As we transition from an industrial model of media distribution to networked communications, corporations and grassroots environmental activists are vying to define environmental opinion in an evolving media landscape. By applying media literacy tools to examine paradigms of communication and ecology we’ll seek to understand how media impact environmental concepts, and explore media strategies for addressing issues such as global climate change. The course covers three core concepts: 1) comparing media and environmental ethics and paradigms, 2) environmental messaging, and 3) the interrelationship between the form of media systems and sustainable business practices.

Using a sustainable media ecosystem framework, students will gain insight into how environmental issues are framed in the media. We examine how the political economy of media influences marketing, news, popular culture and the production of screen technology. Students will explore environmental ideologies and claims making by critically examining advertising, social marketing, documentaries, news and feature films. In addition, the material economy of media gadgets and screen technology will be extensively examined. Finally, this course will demonstrate how alternative approaches to environmental discourses, green cultural citizenship, and green technology can lead to a healthy media ecosystem.



Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

· Connect media with their physiological impact on living systems;

· Evaluate media’s interdependence with the global economy, and how the current model of globalization impacts living systems;

· Analyze how media form symbolic associations and discourses that promote environmental ideologies and claims making in the news, popular culture, and advertising; and

· Comprehend how media impact our ability to engage in sustainable cultural practices by exploring alternative uses of media that promote sustainability. 

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Ecomedia Literacy Antonio LopezRoutledge978-1138303393     
Routledge Handbook of Ecomedia Studies edited by Antonio Lopez, Adrian Ivakhiv, Stephan Rust, Miriam Tola, Alenda Y. Chang, Kiu-wai ChuPublisher9781003176497  Ebook  
Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental MessagesJulia B. CorbettIsland Press978-1597260688  Ebook  

Midterm essayA take-home analytical essay that will examine key issues from the first half of the semester. 30%
Mediasphere analysisPaper and presentation based on an ecological assessment of a media object.30%
Weekly reading observationsStudents will post weekly video observations based on the assigned readings.20%
Attendance and participation More than three unexcused absences and excessive tardiness will result in an automatic F for attendance and participation.10%
Final presentationStudents will make an oral presentation based on their final research projects.10%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the cours
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

More than three unexcused absences will result in the automatic loss of a letter grade. Being late three times counts as an absence. Chronic tardiness will also impact your attendance/participation grade.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Readings and schedule are subject to change. Readings every week are proportional to maintain a reasonable workload; when multiple readings are listed for the week, many of the chapters listed are short. Please consult weekly the Moodle page for the most current assignments. 


Week 1: Constructing Environmental Paradigms

·       Communicating Nature (ch. 1): “The Formation of Environmental Beliefs”

·       Ecomedia Literacy (ch. 2): “Environmental ideology and eco-ethics”

·       Routledge Handbook: “Introduction,” Antonio López, Adrian Ivakhiv, Stephen Rust, Miriam Tola, Alenda Y. Chang, Kiu-wai Chu

·       Routledge Handbook (ch. 24): “Media and Ecocultural Identity,” Tema Milstein, Gabi Mocatta, José Castro-Sotomayor

Week 2: Constructing Environmental Paradigms

·       Communicating Nature (ch. 2): “A Spectrum of Environmental Ideologies”

·       Routledge Handbook (ch. 1): “When Do Media Become Ecomedia?,” Adrian Ivakhiv, Antonio López

·       Routledge Handbook (ch. 5): “Political and Apolitical Ecologies of Digital Media,” Sy Taffel

Week 3: Ecological Mindprint: Advertising and Popular Culture

·       Communicating Nature (chpts. 3-4): “The Links between Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors”; “Work and Consumer Culture”

·       Ecomedia Literacy (ch. 8): “Ecomedia Mindprint: Ecocultures”

Week 4: Advertising and Popular Culture

·       Communicating Nature (chpts. 5-6): “Leisure in Nature as Commodity and Entertainment”;  “Faint-Green: Advertising and the Natural World

·       "Selling with Gaia: Advertising and the natural world," Joseph Clark (PDF)

·       6_sins-greenwashing.pdf (Moodle)

Week 5: Ecological Mindprint: Political Ecology: Constructing Environmental Issues and Claims Making

·       Ecomedia Literacy (ch. 7): “Ecomedia Mindprint: Political Ecology”

·       "Communication, media and social construction of the environment," Anders Hansen (Routledge Handbook of Environmental Communication, PDF)

Extra credit

·       "Systems dynamics meets the press," Donella Meadows (PDF)

Week 6: Constructing Environmental Issues and Claims Making

·       Communicating Nature (ch. 8): “News Media”

·       “Gaslighting: Fake climate news and Big Carbon’s network of denial,” Antonio Lopez (PDF)

Week 7: Corporate PR and Activist Media

·       Communicating Nature (ch. 9): “Battle for Spin: The Public Relations Industry”

·       Routledge Handbook (ch. 21): “#NOLNG253! Media Use in Modern Environmental Justice Movements,” Ellen E. Moore, Anna Bean

Week 8: Midterm Review and Catch-up


Week 9: Ecological Footprint: Intro to Political/material ecology of media

·       Routledge Handbook (ch. 5): “Meaning, Matter, Ecomedia,” Christy Tidwell

·       Routledge Handbook (ch. 15): “Relational Ecologies of the Gramophone Disc,” Elodie A. Roy

Week 10: Ecological Footprint: Conflict minerals/production

·       Routledge Handbook (ch. 6): “Centering Africa in Ecomedia Studies: Interview with Cajetan Iheka,” by Miriam Tola, Kiu-wai Chu, Stephen Rust

·       Routledge Handbook (Chapter 23): “Who Makes Our Smartphones? Four Moments in Their Lifecycle,” Richard Maxwell, Toby Miller

·       Watch: Ghana Digital Dumping Ground

·       Play: The Phone Story (Moodle)

Week 11: Ecological Footprint: Energy/e-waste

·       Routledge Handbook (Chapter 16): “Core Dump: The Global Aesthetics and Politics of E-Waste,” Mehita Iqani

·       Routledge Handbook (Chapter 10): “Disaggregated Footprints: An Infrastructural Literacy Approach to the Sustainable Internet,” Nicole Starosielski, Hunter Vaughan, Anne Pasek, Nicholas R. Silcox

·       Routledge Handbook (Chapter 11): “Collapse Informatics and the Environmental Impact of Information and Communication Technologies,” Laura U. Marks

Week 12: Ecomedia footprint: Selfworld/affect

·       Ecomedia Literacy (ch. 6): “Ecomedia Footprint: Lifeworld,” Antonio Lopez

·       Routledge Handbook (ch. 36): “Slow Media, Eco-Mindfulness, and the Lifeworld,” Jennifer Rauch

Week 13: Eco-citizenship

·       Communicating Nature (ch. 10): “Communication and Social Change”

·       Routledge Handbook (ch. 18): “Environmental Media Management: Overcoming the Responsibility Deficit,” Pietari Kääpä, Hunter Vaughan

·       Routledge Handbook (ch. 20): “Common Pool Resources, Communication, and the Global Media Commons,” Patrick D. Murphy, E. Septime Sessou

Week 14: Review