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COURSE NAME: "Media and the Environment - HONORS (This course carries 4 semester hours of credits. A minimum CUM GPA of 3.5 is required)"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Antonio Lopez
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 10:00-11:15 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
Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental MessagesJulia B. CorbettIsland Press978-1597260688      
Ecomedia Literacy Antonio LopezRoutledge978-1138303393      

MidtermA take-home analytical essay that will examine key issues from the first half of the semester. 30%
Mediasphere analysis10-13 page paper paper 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%
Final presentationStudents will make a presentation based on their final research projects. 10%
Attendance and participation More than three unexcused absences and excessive tardiness will result in an automatic F for attendance and participation.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 cour
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. Please consult the Moodle site weekly for the most current assignments and bibliographic references. E-book reserve readings will be linked on the class Moodle. Please see Moodle page for additional honors readings.

A note on required readings. Several of the assigned books are very short. Some of the chapters listed below are only five pages long (for example Stibee), so when you see "Stibbe chs. 2, 3, 4, 26," that only accounts for 20 pages. Several of the books that are listed as reserve readings will only be a few chapters per book. The amount of reading per week is on a par with all other CMS classes. 

Week 1: Constructing Environmental Paradigms


·      Corbett: Intro, 1-2

·      Lopez: 2


Week 2: Constructing Environmental Paradigms

·      Lopez: 1, 3-4


Week 3: Ecological Mindprint: Advertising and Popular Culture


·      Corbett: 3-4

·      Lopez: 8


Week 4: Advertising and Popular Culture


·      Corbett: 5-7

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

·      6_sins-greenwashing.pdf


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


·      Lopez: 7

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

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


Week 6: Constructing Environmental Issues and Claims Making


·      Corbett: 8

·      "Democracy, climate crisis and journalism: Normative touchstones," Robert Hackett (Journalism and Climate Crisis, PDF)

·      "Conclusion: Media reform for climate action," Robert Hackett (Journalism and Climate Crisis, PDF)


Week 7: Corporate PR and Activist Image Events


·      Corbett: 9

·      "Interview with David Ritter: Mobilising on change--The experience of Greenpeace, Benedetta Brevini (Carbon Capitalism, PDF)

·      "An interview with Michael E Mann: Fighting for science against climate change deniers's propaganda," Benedetta Brevini (Carbon capitalism, PDF)


Week 8: Ecological Footprint: Intro to Political/material ecology of media


·      Lopez: 5

·      "An interview with Naomi Klein: Capitalism versus the climate," Christopher Wright (Carbon Capitalism, PDF)

·      "Digital Desires: Mediated consumerism and climate crisis," Justin Lewis (Carbon Capitalism, PDF)

·      "Departure: A changing world" (ch. 1), Jack Linchuan Qiu (Goodbye i-Slave, reserve)


Week 9: Ecological Footprint: Conflict minerals/production


·      "The greenest smartphone is the one you already own," Richard Maxwell and Toby Miller (How Green is you Smartphone?, reserve)

·      "A temporary closure" (ch. 6), Jack Linchuan Qiu (Goodbye i-Slave, reserve)

·      "Immaterial culture? The (Un)sustainability of screens," Paul Micklethwaite (Media and the Ecological Crisis, reserve)


Week 10: Ecological Footprint: Energy/e-waste


·      "Making data sustainable: Backup culture and risk perception," Shane Brennan (Sustainable Media, reserve)

·      "Re-thingifying the internet of things," Jennifer Gabrys (Sustainable Media, reserve)

·      "E-waste, human-waste, infoflation," Sophia Kaitatzi-Whitlock (Media and the Ecological Crisis, reserve)



Week 11: Ecomedia footprint: Selfworld/Affect


·      Lopez: 4

·      "Mind your media: From distraction to attention," Jennifer Rauch (Slow Media, PDF)


Week 12: Conclusion: Citizenship


·      Corbett: 10

·      "Digital technology and the environment: Challenges for green citizenship and environmental organizations," Richard Maxwell and Toby Miller  (Carbon Capitalism, PDF)