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Communicating Climate 2: Literary Representations of Climate Change

Jennifer Hanselman (Westfield State University), Rick Oches (Bentley University), Jennifer Silko (Pennsylvania State University), Laura Wright (Western Carolina University), InTeGrate, SERC

This activity explores how the topic of climate change is represented in various forms of writing, from scholarly articles to opinion pieces and works of fiction. While the content does not emphasize climate science itself, it instead allows students to focus on how the science is being portrayed.

Activity takes about one 50-minute class period.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 1 Science and Engineering Practice

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate science improves informed policy and decision-making
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPa

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • This activity may be applicable in a wide range of different climate science courses, units, etc. in high school and college.
  • This assignment could be used in a science class to broaden communication skills, or it could be used in a humanities or writing course to strengthen science skills. The activity is deliberately designed to be used either way.
  • This activity can follow Unit 2 (of the InTeGrate module Climate Science and Literacy Texts), or it can be taught as a stand-alone unit that focuses on literary terminology, climate change issues as represented in fiction, and rhetorical analysis.
  • Educator should be sure to have a scientist/mentor, if their background in climate science is weak, to answer questions that may arise.

About the Science

  • This activity deals with climate change literary genres, by exploring different texts and analyzing how those texts engage different audiences about climate change concepts.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - Distinguishes between different concepts of climate change with each type of text and the influences climate change has
    - This is definitely more of a literary assignment with a pinch of science in it for context, but nonetheless a great learning resource!

About the Pedagogy

  • Students analyze various kinds of textual genres – including peer-reviewed journal articles, trade journal publications, editorials, works of fiction, and blogs – that engage with the concept of climate change in order to articulate the differences among different types of texts and the audiences for each.
  • The intent of this exercise is for students to learn how to interpret a text and consider different approaches and perspectives. Students also gain an understanding for how climate change is treated in different forms of literature.
  • Students work independently and in small groups and discuss their analysis with the whole class.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • This activity is complete and it contains handouts, links to readings, a PowerPoint presentation about rhetorical analysis, examples of completed analyses, teaching tips, and a grading rubric.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Science and Engineering Practices: 1

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P8.2:Compare, integrate and evaluate sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a scientific question or solve a problem.

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