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Shaping Climate Narratives

  • How do people respond when faced with cataclysmic natural events?
  • Is there a connection between these events and the current environmental state of our planet?
  • What can we learn from survivors’ narratives of natural disasters?
  • How do we define the state of our planet—and how do different writers address this subject? 
  • Why do scholars and scientists studying the climate issue often fail to influence behavior?  

How can we tell a story that captures survivors’experiences, the scientific data about our current climate situation and in a manner that mobilizes action?

This course will draw on the real-life stories and verbatim interviews of dozens of survivors of extreme weather events—fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, etc.—in the US and around the world. Students will learn about the experiences of people who have faced these events—in some cases, losing family members or friends—and how it has influenced the way they live now. The Lab will consider their stories in the larger context of the global climate crisis and explore their responses and how their experiences have changed their lives. And then we will assess this body of material to identify the most intriguing stories, tease out the ideasthemes, and questions their real-life stories evoke and then work together to form and script a compelling theatrical narrative.



Impact Outcomes

Lab students had an incredible opportunity to join faculty from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and School of Music, Dance and Theater in creating a theater performance piece as a key component to their Lab’s climate exploration. The foundation for the piece originated from Voices from the Future, a collection of more than 30 stories and interviews of survivors of extreme weather events including floods, fire and more spanning five separate continents. Students from the Lab partnered with ASU Library’s Director of Data Science and Analytics as well as Director of their Map and Geospatial Hub as part of their research into the Lab’s climate-based inquiries and in preparation for developing, writing and staging their performance.

View their final impact outcomes here.

Climate Narratives in the News

At the Humanities Lab, we strive to ensure our Labs are relevant and current. Here are some recent articles about natural disasters in today’s news.

There have been several fires, floods, etc this summer, and the Guardian has a lot of recent articles.

Enrollment Information

Fall 2020

Course time/location: Thursdays 2:00-5:00pm in LIB345

Lab time/location: Wednesdays 3:15-4:30pm in ED230*

  • Humanities Lab HUL 494/598
  • Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts HDA 494
  • School of Sustainabiltiy SOS 494
  • Department of English ENG 494
*Lab time is for students to work on activities and assignments, especially skill-building and collaborative Lab projects. Contact faculty about required Lab times.   Sign up today!

Instructional Team

Faculty: Michael Rohd Film, Dance and Theatre Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts Shaping Climate Narratives Fall 2020
Faculty: Steven Beschloss Journalism and Mass Communications Shaping Climate Narratives Fall 2020
Librarian: Matt Toro Director of Maps, Imagery, and Geospatial Services Map and Geospatial Hub Shaping Climate Narratives Fall 2020
Librarian: Michael Simeone Biosocial Complexity Initiative Asst Research Professor (FSC) Shaping Climate Narratives Fall 2020