Environmental Media

Environmental Media
Research Focus Group


Constance Penley (Film and Media Studies), penley@filmandmedia.ucsb.edu
Ron Rice (Communication), rrice@comm.ucsb.edu
Nicole Starosielski (Film amd Media Studies), n_star@umail.ucsb.edu

About the Environmental Media Initiative RFG

The Environmental Media Initiative emerged at UCSB from the recognition that no other UC campus, or any campus anywhere, has such exceptional strengths in media and communication studies, on the one hand, and environmental science, on the other. The EMI defines media as not only radio, cinema, television and the internet but the remote sensing that goes on in the Geography Department and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, the virtual reality lab in the Psychology Department, and the underwater rovers in the Marine Science Institute. On the UCSB campus, our research in environmental media includes exploring how indigenous communities are using video technologies to document deforestation and defend land rights; evaluating the credibility and effectiveness of Internet and other media campaign messages in the communication of environmental issues; using world-wide email surveys to understand the scientific and cultural milieu of plant breeding; and taking an international and comparative look at environmentalism on other continents. Our research also extends into the domain of information visualization in the humanities, arts, and sciences.


The purpose of the RFG is to build an interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate student affiliates interested in supporting the development of environmental media activities across campus. In the upcoming year, we hope to conduct a more formal assessment of the needs of EMI affiliate faculty; develop an EMI website as a platform for EMI members; invite researchers to speak to the campus community; program screenings of environmental films; discuss pivotal readings in the field of environmental media; and continue to develop and collaborate on interdisciplinary projects.

Activities 2007-2008

This past year the Environmental Media RFG brought together faculty and graduate students to develop various aspects of teaching, research, and public programming for the Environmental Media Initiative. We compiled a list of past and current environmental media related courses and discussed future EM curriculum development. We hosted two public events: a lecture by Leo Kay, “Communicating about Clean Air: Managing Relationships among California Government, the Public, and the Business Community”; and a series of communication campaign project presentations, “Media and the Environment: Communicating about Santa Barbara ‘s Ocean, Air, and Land.” The RFG meetings initiated cross-disciplinary conversations about on-campus EMI activities, as well as collaboration between faculty and graduate students on EMI-related projects such as the Environmental Media Workshop at the Digital Editing Lab and Digital Ocean . Funding has come to RFG members working on EMI projects from the UCSB Coastal Fund, NASA, the UCIRA, and Vulcan/Paul Allen Foundation.