Communicating Climate Change

CMM36 Elective 4 ECTS
Period W24 - W25 06.06.16 - 17.06.16
Instructor Guðni Elísson


The course mainly focuses on climate change and sustainable development through media coverage (print media and visual media). The aim of the course is threefold: to equip students with (1) understanding of the role of media and the impact it has in shaping current discourses on the topic of climate change and sustainable development, and (2) skills for systematic and critical evaluation of current climate change discourses and (3) ability to select an effective communication style for intended target groups.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • identify and discuss key international discourse themes on the topic of climate change, and defend or oppose given climate change position derived from such discourses,
  • systematically evaluate current climate change discourses using media framing techniques,
  • identify key texts, films and websites dedicated to the topic of climate change


a) Two in-class presentations (two students for each assignment), discussing certain cultural themes, events and individuals central to the debate, films, etc. (45 minutes each).  

b) One 30 minute in-class presentation of a specific scientific question. 


Guðni Elísson is a Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Iceland. He obtained Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin in 1993, and MA degree in Icelandic literature from the University of Iceland in 1987. His traditional teaching area has been literary theory (e.g. ÍSM702F Chomsky: Language, mind and society), romanticism, horror fiction, film theory, adaptation and film noir. Along with a number of high profile articles in Icelandic print media, Guðni has published papers on climate change and sustainability discourses. Recent peer-reviewed Icelandic publications on the topic include:
• „Dauðinn á forsíðunni: DV og gotnesk heimssýn", Fyrri og seinni hluti, Skírnir, vor 2006, bls. 105-132 og Skírnir, haust 2006, bls. 313-356.
• „Nú er úti veður vont: Gróðurhúsaáhrif og íslensk umræðuhefð". Ritið 1/2007, bls. 5-44.
• „Efahyggja og afneitun: Ábyrg loftslagsumræða í fjölmiðlafári samtímans". Ritið 2/2008, bls. 77-114.
• „Dómsdagsklukkan tifar. Upplýsing og afneitun í umræðu um loftslagsbreytingar", Ritið 1/2011, bls. 91-136.
• „Og syngur enginn fugl: Hernaðurinn gegn Rachel Carson", TMM 3/2011, bls. 24-39.

Guest lecturer

Further reading

Readings and further readings will be posted on the course website on UW intranet.