Ecomedia Literacy: Principles and Practices

This short article offers practical insights and strategies for incorporating ecomedia literacy into media education, addressing the urgent need to foster environmental consciousness and media engagement in today’s interconnected world. By presenting a diverse array of educational activities and methods, it equips educators and learners with tools to navigate and critically evaluate the complex relationships between media, ecology, and society.

Mucktracker’s Climate Change & Media Literacy Lessons

Mucktracker serves as a valuable tool for teaching students the profound impact of language on our perceptions of the world, with a specific focus on climate change reporting. Through its lessons and resources, Mucktracker empowers educators to foster classroom discussions from an ecomedia literacy perspective, enabling students to critically assess media coverage, identify patterns, and discern the implications for our contemporary world.

Environmental Discourses

This lesson introduces students to the foundational concept of environmental discourse, a vital element in ecomedia analysis, enabling them to discern how environmental discourses convey environmental beliefs, ideologies, and ethics. Through the examination of historical shifts in environmental discourses across diverse media forms, students will gain insights into the evolution and prevalent manifestations of these discourses in media representations.

Discourse or Disinformation?

Project Look Sharp logo

Media literacy and critical thinking lesson analyzing conflicting presentations of scientific information about global warming in various drafts of government reports, video and opinion articles.

Keep America Beautiful: The Crying Indian (1970)

This is a great media example for discussing environmental discourses and ideology. It utilizes the eco-utopian discourse (often represented by indigenous and First Nations peoples) to promote conservationist environmentalism, which aligns with anthropocentric environmental ideology.

Winged Migration: Extended Preview

This clip is useful for exploring the wilderness environmental discourse. It can also be used to discuss how “nature” stories are constructed.

Avatar: Trailer

Avatar demonstrates how symbolic resources circulate in the global media ecosystem in complex and contradictory ways. On the surface, Avatar is a typical product of the culture industry. Its production, marketing, product tie-ins, and normal hype that accompanies blockbuster films point to it being just another Hollywood spectacle appropriating social anxieties for profit. In particular, the film was criticized as a simplistic New Age fantasy that demeans and stereotypes indigenous cultures. Yet audiences reacted profoundly to the movie. The film visualizes a war of opposing knowledge systems: one based on the commodification of natural resources versus a sophisticated ecoculture struggling against colonial forces of extraction and destruction.

Into the Wild: Trailer

Into the Wild depicts the real-life story of Chris McCandless, who goes on a journey to come into contact with the “wild” in Alaska. This is a strong example of the wilderness environmental discourse, which has a long tradition in Western visual and literary culture. Students can discuss how wilderness is represented as different than, or other than, civilization. Does this film enable people to feel more connected to nature, or disconnected?

Chipotle Ad: Can a Burrito Change the World?

Chipotle asks, Can a burrito change the world? What kind of environmental discourses are used to answer this? How does it describe farming practices? How does Chipotle back its claims? Can Chipotle legitimately claim they are changing the food industry? Discuss the meaning of the phrase at the very end: How we grow our food is how we grow our future.

Sun-Maid Raisin Girl goes to Hollywood

This advertisement for Sun-Maid Raisins is a strong example of the pastoral environmental discourse. It represents an idyllic version of farming that has a long tradition in Western visual culture. Discuss with students about whether or not this ad accurately represents the reality of industrial farming. They can research how raisins are produced and the conditions for laborers who pick grapes. They can also explore what kinds of beliefs about the environment are communicated in the ad. Finally, what do they think about the ad’s focus on celebrity?