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.

Environmental Ideology: A Spectrum of Environmental Worldviews

The lesson’s primary goal is to educate students on discerning environmental worldviews within media, highlighting the importance of worldviews in shaping how we value the environment. These worldviews influence environmental ideologies and the ethical choices individuals make in their interactions with the world, spanning the spectrum from anthropocentrism to ecocentrism.

Chobani Ad: Dear Alice

This short animated Choboni ad about the future of food production can be useful for exploring different environmental discourses, including pastoral, food, and sustainability. It can be used to generate a discussion about food, agriculture, eco-modernism, and mechanism.

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.

How An Indigenous Worldview Can Preserve our Existence

This video offers a strong discussion on comparing the dominant worldview that is driving the world system with an indigenous view of life. Synopsis: “Our dominant ways of life are guided by an underlying worldview that has been the main driver behind climate change, pandemics and extinction rates. Overwhelming evidence reveals that our original Indigenous, nature-based worldview is an antidote. Supporting and Re-embracing this interconnected way of living is the most urgent course of action we must take.”

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.

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.

Indigenous Cosmology: The Honorable Harvest

This short video is part of a series called “Seeding the Field: 30 Years of Transformative Solutions,” which celebrates some of the best moments of the Bioneers conference through the last 30 years. “Indigenous peoples worldwide honor plants, not only as our sustainers, but as our oldest teachers who share teachings of generosity, creativity, sustainability and joy. By their living examples, plants spur our imaginations of how we might live. By braiding indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) with modern tools of botanical science, Robin Kimmerer, professor of Environmental Science and Forestry, of Potawatomi ancestry.”

Planet Earth II: Official Extended Trailer (BBC Earth)

This BBC trailer can be used for discussions about the representations of wilderness, animals, environmental discourses, and environmental ideology. It’s important to also pay attention to the use of Hollywood-style film language.