Darren is a writer, parent, and instructor at the SFU School of Communication and at the UBC School of Journalism, Writing, and Media. His research interests include: environmental discourse, climate change journalism, faith-based social movements, energy humanities, and the cultural politics of fossil fuels in Canada.
Communication and the environmental imagination
In this course we learn the unique features and characteristics of scholarly expression and how to familiarize ourselves with various scholarly genres. Through writing and reading exercises, students will become acquainted with the culture of academic research and learn how to express themselves within a scholarly context. We will exam how knowledge is mobilized through different scholarly forms and practices to produce observations and stories about our world. In particular, we investigate the ways our topic can be interrogated through various academic lenses. Throughout the course, students will engage in peer review knowledge production and learn to identify the distinctions and boundaries of varied research communities.
In The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh argues “the climate crisis is also a crisis of culture, and thus of the imagination.” What does Ghosh mean by this? What are the implications in terms of environmental communication? Drawing upon the Canadian experience, we journey through various genres of scholarship and communication to explore competing visions of the environment. In particular, we pay close attention to how discourses of progress, sustainability, and consumption intersect with broader political and environmental theories of social, political, and cultural transformation. What role does information and awareness play in theories of behaviour change? In what ways do fossil fuels structure the cultural landscape? How is energy production gendered through promotional discourses? How do our values inform our thinking about natural and built environments? Are fear-based messages helpful or hurtful when it comes to communicating ecological urgency? Addressing these questions and others, we critically assess differing theories, perspectives, and concepts about the role that information plays in directing environmental behaviours and understandings.