About the Course

Colby Jan PLanAs part of Colby’s JanPlan 2015, Views of a Changing Planet encouraged students to examine the ways in which we understand, experience, and think about global environmental change. We surveyed narratives of change as told through a variety of media – including documentary films, fictional short stories, Hollywood blockbusters, contemporary television shows, and scientific reports – to spur creative thinking about the changing world, possible environmental futures, and the role that science and technology play in the construction of those futures. Speculating about possible environmental futures involved looking at issues of global distributive justice, expertise, authority, uncertainty, identity, and hope. Our class had the opportunity to ask one filmmaker about his work directly, as director of Owning the Weather, Robert Greene, joined us to discuss his work with the class. We also gave students a chance to engage with issues of global change by writing and recording their own fictional shorts. You can see a full the course Syllabus – ST297J A Views of a Changing Planet here and explore the narratives our students created on the rest of the site.

Here are some of the things that students said after the course:

“This class has been the best class I have taken at Colby because I was constantly engaged with the material and developed a new way of thinking about global change. After the first two days of the course, I was hooked…”

“I’ve learned quite a bit from this course. I think one of the biggest takeaways I will have is that storytelling is important. Our analyses of film and fiction this month certainly made me think about the salience of authority – why do these authors and filmmakers get to tell these stories, regardless if they are objective or not. Whether it is Robert Greene’s “Owning the Weather,” or Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” these films are used by the public as sources of knowledge. Thus, this course’s theme of using film and fiction to examine global change got me thinking about the power of storytelling.”

“To me the course fundamentally achieved an aim to use narratives in order to emphasize the invisible actors of environmental and distributive justice… What is lost in the indisputability of climate science concern and hard graphs from simulator models is a vivid and palpable human account.”

“…the healthy balance between discussion time and group activities made the three hours very interesting.”

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