For teachers working with communication, journalism, and media, topics related to global warming and climate change can allow students to bridge your subject-area goals with an important current topic that also intersects with other subject areas—and an area where they can make a unique contribution to deepening the school community’s understanding of climate change.
Topics such as global warming and climate change, fossil fuel extraction and use, pipelines, and social movements have been challenges for the communications, journalism, and media fields. For just that reason, these topics can help teachers explore such challenges and look beyond the technical skills to societal implications, allowing students to connect work in this subject area with other subjects. This, in turn, can put your students in the position of making unique contributions to the school community’s understanding of climate change.
Will these questions help initiate or add depth to the discussion on media coverage of global warming and climate change?
- Do you agree or disagree that an informed electorate is a prerequisite for democracy? Why or why not?
- In that context, does our media do a good job covering issues such as global warming and climate change?
- Is there enough detail and depth for an ‘informed electorate’?
- In the same context, does our media do a sufficient job with issues such as climate justice and other social justice concerns?
- Do some news reports give the scientific basis for global warming, while others deny any connection to human activity?
- If so, what accounts for these contradictory messages?
- What societal and economic factors and pressures influence journalistic reporting?
- How does the extent and depth of coverage on global warming and climate change compare to coverage of entertainment and sports?
- Do some news reports question or dismiss the scientific basis for global warming or its connection to human activities?
- How can we distinguish between factual reporting and false news, propaganda, or Orwellian double-think (contradictory beliefs passed on as equivalences)?
- Is the mainstream or commercial media doing a good or bad job in providing meaningful coverage of global warming and climate change? Why or why not?
Would any of these ideas for writing-related to global warming and climate change help generate discussion and productive work?
- Feature stories on awareness of global warming in the school or community
- News stories on how people are being affected by global warming
- Stories connecting a current issue such as protests against pipelines or fossil-fuel extraction with global warming and climate change
- Interviews with people in the community, including a range of different ages/generations
- A series of articles about climate change science and impacts, including climate justice
- Reporting on changing extinction rates
- Reporting, analysis, posters, and/or presentations on:
- Ways in which your school contributes to climate change
- How classes in the various subjects are addressing these matters
- Possible ways to reduce your school’s GHG emissions
- Topics such as global warming, climate change, fossil fuel extraction, pipelines, dissent, and other politically-charged matters present significant challenges to the fields of communications, journalism, and media.
- Investigative reporting in these areas involves considering both the scientific facts and the economic, social, and political contexts.
- The quality of writing and media coverage plays an important role in society.
Additional Resources for Communication & Journalism
- Center for News Literacy Bringing crucial critical thinking skills for the 21st century to teachers and students.
- Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math Bill McKibben. Rolling Stone, 2012.
- Global Warming’s Terrifying New Chemistry Bill McKibben. The Nation, 2016.
- How to Teach High-School Students to Spot Fake News Slate.com, 2016.
- Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens Center for News Literacy, 2016. An online version of the News Literacy curriculum developed at Stony Brook University in New York and the University of Hong Kong.
- Media Construction of Global Warming; A Digital Media Literacy Curriculum Project Look Sharp website, with downloadable teacher resources on this and other topics.
- News Literacy Course Pack Center for News Literacy, 2016. Outlines eight key concepts for News Literacy.
- Research on News Literacy Center for News Literacy.
- ‘The Green New Deal and Our Schools.’ Rethinking Schools, 2019.
- Why Teach About Climate Change in English Language Arts Teaching Climate Change to Adolescents: Reading, Writing, and Making a Difference by Beach, Share, and Webb. Routledge, 2017.