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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Colin J Lingle
COM 418
Seattle Campus

Communications and the Environment

Examines the role of mass media in the resolution of environmental problems. Topics include strengths and weaknesses of media coverage, use of media by environmental groups and government agencies, media effects on public opinion, and mass communication and social movements. Offered: jointly with ENVIR 418.

Class description

Communication is a complex social process that touches every aspect of life. Exploring this process gives us a better sense of how information, influence, and social and political power move through society. Few issues demonstrate our physical and conceptual interconnectedness better than 'The Environment.' We are confronted daily with environmental messages that can shape our thinking and our actions, but where do these messages come from? Who is controlling or constraining what messages can be sent? How do these messages generate common sense, consensus, or conflict?

This course is designed to introduce you to a number of important concepts in communication and to demonstrate how different practices shape this profoundly important idea. We will study and test these concepts through in-class discussions, critical thinking exercises, and public engagement. In this way, you yourself will practice shaping the wider discourse on the environment.

Student learning goals

Describe key communication theories and apply them in practical contexts

Practice critical thinking in evaluating environmental messages from different stakeholders

Examine broad influences and specific linguistic techniques of environmental discourse

Build communication skills by conceptualizing and executing a public message strategy

Interpret environmental discourse as a field of complex, constructed messages

General method of instruction

The course will involve academic and general readings (including web-based resources), discussion of communication theory and current events, and both written and practical exercises in developing messages designed to influence public discourse.

Recommended preparation

It will be useful, but not required, to have a basic understanding of communication theory, including constructionist perspectives of public discourse. Students will be asked to follow and discuss a variety of environmental news sources during the course.

Class assignments and grading

There will be several short, individualized writing assignments and a broader communication project in which students will develop and disseminate their own environmental messages.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Colin J Lingle
Date: 06/15/2011