Communication and Culture | Current Topics in Communication &Culture
C334 | 1147 | Pezzullo

Although public opinion polls show that the majority of people in the
U.S. care about the environment, some have argued that the
environmental movement is facing its greatest obstacles yet, including
institutionalization, increased corporate influence, media
conglomeration, and diminished space/quality of public debate.  This
course is based upon two assumptions: (1) environmentalists need to
address these constraints in order to become more persuasive actors in
public culture; and (2) students of rhetoric are particularly well
positioned to assess this situation and, thus, the communication
practices of the environmental movement.

The course will begin by establishing a vocabulary and theoretical
framework from which we can critically assess the role(s) of
environmental communication practices in public culture.  More
specifically, we will consider the possibilities of/for green politics
in "public spheres" of democracy.  To support/extend/challenge this
foundation, we then will turn to specific contemporary environmental
controversies (ex., logging, toxic waste, and public health).  Since
we cannot address every environmental debate today, the readings will
focus on the U.S. environmental justice movement as one facet of

The assignments are designed to allow students to engage the course
materials and additional environmental communication practices of
interest to them.  In addition to reasonable flexibility with the
final research paper topics, each student will write a relevant
critical book review of their choice (e.g., The Legacy of Luna, A
Civil Action,  Water Wars, etc.).  The overall goal of the course is
to encourage students to engage contemporary communication practices
of the environmental movement and to critically interpret their
efficacy as interventions in public culture.  There will be no exam.
Each student is required to write three papers (including one extended
final research paper), to present orally, and to actively participate
in class.

Required Textbooks:

* Douglas Torgerson.  (1999).  The Promise of Green Politics:
Environmentalism and the Public Sphere.  Durham, NC: Duke University

* Daniel Faber, Ed. (1998) The Struggle for Ecological Democracy:
Environmental Justice Movements in the United States.  NY, NY: The
Guilford Press.

* Richard Hofrichter, Ed. (2000) Reclaiming the Environmental Debate:
The Politics of Health in a Toxic Culture.  Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.