Spring 2022 - CMNS 349 D100

Environment, Media and Communication (4)

Class Number: 2953

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 8:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    SSCK 9500, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 14, 2022
    11:59 PM – 11:59 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including at least one upper division course in CMNS, DIAL, ENV, EVSC, GEOG or BlSC, with a minimum grade of C-.



An examination of how media, culture and communication shape public opinion and behaviour about environmental issues such as global warming, (un)sustainable resource use and pollution, with special attention to the impact of practices such as advertising, public relations, science and risk communication, journalism and advocacy communication upon public discourse about the environment, and the role of dialogue and deliberation in mediating and resolving conflict over environmental issues.


Drawing heavily upon the Canadian experience, we journey through behavioural psychology, media theory, risk communication, climate justice, media political economy, public opinion polls, environmental advocacy campaigns, documentary films, pop culture, and industry public relations to explore various competing visions of the natural world, and our place within it. In particular, we pay close attention to how discourses of progress, sustainability, consumption, and colonization intersect with broader political and environmental theories of social, economic, and cultural change. From preservation to conservation, from ecological modernization to the New Green Deal and the Leap Manifesto, how do varying media modalities and communicative practices shape societal beliefs about the environment? Can fossil fuel corporations be environmentalists? Is it possible to grow the economy and save the environment at the same time? How do our values inform our thinking about climate change? Addressing these questions and others, we critically assess various theories and concepts about the role that media and information plays in directing environmental behaviours and understandings.


By the end of the course students should be able to demonstrate understanding in the following areas: a) how to identify important points of distinction, tension, and agreement between various environmental stakeholders in Canada and beyond; b) the ability to describe the genre and theoretical approach of various environmental scholars and communicators; c) identify the genealogy of dominant environmental ideas; e) how to apply key concepts and ideas from the course to current environmental issues and campaigns.


  • Tutorial Attendance (5%), Presentation (10%), and Participation (5%) 20%
  • 3 x 350 word reading reflections (3 x 8.33%) 25%
  • In-Class Writing/Discussion Exercises 5%
  • Midterm exam 20%
  • Take-home final exam 30%


Note: Grading breakdown to be confirmed in the first class. 



“Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest” – Suzanne Simard. 

E-book versions (acceptable):

  • Kindle Edition, Page numbers source ISBN: 0241389356
  • E-book ISBN: 9780525656104 

ISBN: Print 9780593459423

*All other readings will be available through the course website on Canvas or the SFU Library. Students are also strongly recommended to regularly review mainstream and alternative news coverage of climate change over the course of the term. Recommended venues include: The Guardian, The Tyee and The National Observer (note: the Observer is behind a paywall, but may be accessed through the SFU library).


“Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere” 6th Edition. Phaedra C. Pezzullo and Robert Cox.

E-version ok. 5th edition ok. ***This textbook is not required but will be a very helpful resource for students from outside the discipline of communication, or who would benefit from a detailed inventory of terms/paired with a schematic assessment of environmental communication as an academic discipline. I will occasionally refer to this text during lectures. 

ISBN: 9781544387031

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.