Cristine Russell Photo

Cristine Russell

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy

The media play a unique role in shaping public understanding, policy, and political debate about controversial climate, energy, and environmental issues around the world. However, as dire scientific warnings about climate change increase and mainstream news outlets shrink, the Internet provides a growing global megaphone for confusing and often contradictory information and misinformation, particularly on social media. This course, taught by a longtime science journalist, is designed to help students navigate the rapidly changing media landscape, using examples from current international energy and environmental debates. Media topics include the impact of Trump Administration policies and global reaction; science and climate denialism; climate change and extreme weather; energy, climate, and development; the future of fossil fuels, renewable energy and nuclear power; proposed technological fixes, and the rapidly changing Arctic. Analyses of media coverage will examine how complex policy issues involving environmental, health, and economic risks/benefits become polarized and how public communication—and media coverage—could be improved. Increasingly, all professionals in the public and private sectors—by choice or necessity—need to become better communicators in conventional and social media. Practical communication, writing and media strategies/skills will include an op-ed, class blog and role-play exercise. Guest speakers add real-world perspectives. Lessons from this course apply readily to other public policy issues as well.