Inside the Greenhouse:
Utilizing Media to Communicate Positive Solutions for Climate Change
ENVS 3100

Course Description

The objectives for this course are (1) to generate multimodal compositions on the subject of climate change and (2) engage with various dimensions and issues associated with sustainability. We work to deepen our understanding of how issues associated with climate change are/can be communicated, by analyzing previously created expressions from a variety of media (interactive theatre, film, fine art, performance art, television programming, blogs for examples) and then by creating our own work. Throughout the semester, we will appraise and extract effective methods and techniques in ongoing student work and apply them to what will emerge as Inside the Greenhouse (ITG) programming.

There are four components to the ITG project into which this class is situated: (1) a two-course series offered at the University of Colorado (this one and Prof Rebecca Safran’s Climate Change and Film (ATLS 3519/EBIO 4460) offered in Fall semesters), (2) twice-a-year public events, (3) a 23-minute television program and (4) connected community activities. Our next live (free-and-ticketed) show
in Boulder will take place on Friday, April 18th, beginning at 7:30pm at CU-Boulder’s Macky Auditorium. This event will feature former New York Times journalist Andrew Revkin (confirmed) and musician Dar Williams (invited). This event will be our third live show in a larger project that deploys creative communications on issues surrounding climate change through video, theatre, dance, and writing. More information on these various aspects of the ITG project can be found here.

The interdisciplinary approach taken up here seeks to capture, value and interrogate the complexity of multi-scale and contemporary climate science, policy and politics as well as the challenges of performance and communication of these issues. Our motivations here spring from an expansive view of climate science and policy in society, where more formal scientific and policy work is part of, rather than separate from, public uptake. Representational practices of various sorts play key roles in interpretation, framing climate change for policy, politics and the public, and drawing attention to how to make sense of the changing world. Mediated portrayals – from television news to live performance – are critical links between people’s everyday realities and experiences, and the ways in which these are discussed at a distance between science, policy and public actors.

The chosen title of the course – Inside the Greenhouse – acknowledges that, to varying degrees, we are all implicated in, part of, and responsible for greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. So in the course we treat this ‘greenhouse’ as a living laboratory, an intentional place for growing new ideas and evaluating possibilities to confront climate change through a range of mitigation and adaptation strategies. We necessarily harness the tools and perspectives from both the Environmental Studies program, and the Department of Theater and Dance in order to accomplish these goals.