The Environmental Media Initiative develops interdisciplinary research projects that bring together scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences to investigate critical issues in media and the environment. Faculty and graduate student affiliates work together to create environmental media activities across campus. Activities include building a web-based environmental media community; inviting researchers to speak to the UC Santa Barbara campus community; programming screenings of environmental films; discussing pivotal readings in the field of environmental media; and developing and collaborating on interdisciplinary projects.
Sampling the Sea is an online social networking-based ocean science education program that involves high school students in classrooms around the world in monitoring, analyzing, and sharing information about the declining global fish population. Though largely unrecognized, the serious implications of these declines in world seafood stocks for humans and the ecosystem dwarf other food problems in our time. Sampling the Sea uses multi-disciplinary teams of students, scientists, and new media experts to engage the next generation of consumers in a global dialogue on the interrelationships among local human customs, regulatory laws, fishing practices, wildlife management, and the future of the sea.
A year-long initiative from UC Santa Barbara's Carsey-Wolf Center, Figuring Sea Level Rise extended conversations among scholars, students, policy-makers, activists, and broader publics about the projected effects of sea level rise on human and natural systems. It was a widely collaborative project, engaging faculty from Anthropology, Communication, and Sociology to Art, East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, English, and Film and Media Studies to Earth Science, Marine Science, Environmental Studies, and Engineering. Workshops, seminars, a multi-media website, film screenings, and a conference explored how sea level rise is perceived, understood, and portrayed differently by different groups within the academy, as well as among those who live or work in coastal zones. The unifying “environmental media” approach considered how research on the rising oceans is conducted through sophisticated techniques of measuring and modeling and represented or “figured” through various types of media.
Part of the Figuring Sea Level Rise project, i (heart) h2o consisted of two interactive workshops and a provocative survey. It was developed by LA artists and water enthusiasts Sara Daleiden, s(o)ul, and Therese Kelly, AIA. Therese and Sara's three-part project uses our own campus as an experiential lab for thinking through our relationship as a campus to water systems and to our location in a coastal watershed with unique vulnerabilities to sea level rise.
This research project builds upon a growing research effort to incorporate social and behavioral theory and analysis to create a clearer picture of the role of news media in shaping public awareness about global climate change and associated actions (or lack thereof). This research was motivated by a desire to better understand 1) the types of information that have been provided in news reports about climate change over the past several decades, and 2) how people are likely to interpret and react to and/or act upon the information contained in these news stories.