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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Communication, Culture and the Environment
Module Code CM3006
School School of Communications
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: David Robbins
Semester 2: David Robbins
Autumn: David Robbins
Module TeachersDavid Robbins
Rabia Qusien
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only
Analysis of the communication strategy of an institution, individual, or organisation concerning the environment.

This module will introduce students to some of the key concepts and debates surrounding the communication of environmental issues. It will examine how organisations, institutions, and individuals communicate about the environment and the impact these efforts have on public understanding and political debate. It will explore the varied portrayal of the environment in journalism, advocacy communications, documentary, and film. It analyses the interplay between media, citizens, and environment-focused organisations in contemporary debates about climate change, pollution, food, energy, and animal welfare.

Learning Outcomes

1. Identify the different discourses -- the varied ways of thinking or talking -- about the environment that shape how the environment is portrayed in public life.
2. Recognise the major institutions, organisations, groups and individuals that seek to persuade the public about environmental issues.
3. Describe how advocates, scientists, policymakers, institutions and corporations use public communication to influence citizens’ attitudes and behaviours towards the environment.
4. Analyse critically the communication strategies and arguments used by advocates, scientists, policymakers and corporations to influence citizens’ attitudes and behaviours towards the environment.
5. Analyse critically journalistic coverage of the environment.
6. Evaluate critically the portrayal of the environment in popular culture.
7. Apply concepts, principles, and ideas of environmental communication to current events and issues through the production of original research and analysis papers.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture22No Description
Independent Study43No Description
Assignment Completion30No Description
Assignment Completion30No Description
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

From Silent Spring to Hot, Flat and Crowded: The Discourses That Define Our Environment.
This introductory lecture introduces to the main themes of the module -- the different ways of understanding the natural world and humanity’s relationship to it. It also provides a historical background to the development of environmental communication as an area of research specialism and professional focus.

Environmental Journalism: Between Reporting and Advocacy
This lecture examines the role of environmental journalism, which emerged as a distinct specialism in the 1960s and drew global attention to new ecological threats. It will examine the unique features of environmental reporting, as well as the claims that environmental reporting is too environmentalist in its coverage.

Environmental Advocates: Nature’s Defenders
This lecture examines how advocates in environmental organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have communicated -- in often controversial ways -- their messages and ideas. It explores how advocates aim to persuade citizens and policymakers of their point of view and examines the effects of these efforts.

Companies and Policymakers: Sustainable Responses?
This lecture examines how companies take environmental goals into account as they shape their public image, as well as exploring the role of corporations in addressing ecological challenges. It examines also how policymakers engage with and make decisions about environmental issues -- with public communication an important influence.

Documentarians: Nature’s Witnesses
This lecture explores the role and functions of documentary film and filmmakers in our understanding of the environment. It will focus on one case study -- the documentary Food Inc. -- exploring how it portrayed the environment and examining its cultural impacts.

Filmmakers: Ecological Visionaries
This lecture will examine the role and impact of fiction films about the environment, especially in portraying possible environmental futures.

Climate Change: Challenges and Controversies
This lecture will examine the complex issues in the communication of climate change, addressing in particular the difficulties in motivating citizens and policymakers to address the potential impacts of climate change. It will also address the communication strategies and responses to climate skeptics.

Food: A New Social Movement
This lecture will explore the communication of food issues, focusing on the communication issues surrounding organic food, sustainable farming, genetically-modified food, and the industrial food industry.

Water: The 21st Century Crisis
This lecture focuses on the role of communication in global debates over water: responses to drought, conflicts over water scarcity, and protests to the privatisation of water.

Energy: How to Power the Future?
This lecture will examine the portrayal of energy, including the social debates over nuclear energy, fracking, and renewable energy.

Animal Welfare & Farming: Who Speaks for Nature?
This lecture examines the role of communication in the animal rights’ movement and the communication of issues related to agriculture.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
AssignmentAnalysis of the communication strategy of an institution, individual, or organisation concerning the environment.40%Week 8
Research PaperEssay on the communication of a specific environmental issue and the representation of that issue in public life.60%Week 12
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Rachel Carson: 2007, Silent Spring, Penguin Books, New York,
  • Tom Friedman: 2009, Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America, Picador, New York,
  • Mike Hulme: 2009, Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
  • Fred Pearce: 0, When the Rivers Run Dry: Water – The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century, Beacon Press, Boston,
  • John Dryzek: 0, The Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses, Oxford, Oxford University Press,
Other Resources

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