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Graduate Coursework

We offer over a a diversity of courses in science and environmental communication theory, skill building, and applied client work. All courses are open to current MESM, PhD, and MEDS students, with enrollment priority given to MESM students.

Survey Design & Environmental Public Opinion

Equity & the Environment

Advanced Topics in Environmental Justice

ESM 440

Strategic Environmental Communication

ESM 430

Environmental Negotiation

ESM 449

Environmental Communication Practicum

ESM 269

ESM 437

Writing Skills for Environmental Professionals

ESM 295A

ESM 441

Environmental Media Production

ESM 295B

ESM 442

Comm for Civic Engagement & Grassroots Organizing

Students may also enroll in courses offered in other departments for Bren Communication elective credit, such as EDS 240: Data Visualization and Communication, FAMST 118: Green Screen, and TMP 244: Entrepreneurial Marketing. All courses outside of Bren do not guarantee enrollment and require instructor permission. Your electives must also be approved by the Communication Program manager to count toward the 8-unit Communication Focus elective requirement.

Academic Focus: Strategic Environmental Communication & Media (SECM)

We offer a dedicated academic focus in Strategic Environmental Communication & Media (SECM) for students who are serious about honing their skills and using communication and media as a vehicle for environmental change. Graduates of the SECM program have enhanced career opportunities and have been placed everywhere from communication consulting firms to community outreach management positions to jobs as organizational spokespeople and strategists.

To complete the Communication academic focus, students are required to enroll in 8 units of environmental communication coursework.


Communication Courses

8 units required for focus

ESM 440 Strategic Environmental Communication (4 units) Staff

Students begin their training with a deep dive into communication, persuasion, and decision-making science to understand how their audiences will process environmental messages. Students study the elements of compelling storytelling and practice adapting their message to diverse audiences. By mastering the art of good storytelling, students are well-equipped to specialize in any communication approach.


ESM 449 Environmental Communication Practicum (4 units) Staff

Training effective environmental communicators requires the opportunity to practice working in an applied setting, something the focus has built into its framework. In this capstone course, students apply their knowledge and communication skills to develop and implement their own communication campaign for an environmental organization.

*Enrollment in ESM 449 requires approval by the instructor.


​ESM 269 Survey Design and Environmental Public Opinion (2 units) Heather Hodges

For a communication campaign to be successful, one must first determine what type of message would be most compelling to a target audience. This course provides an essential toolkit for this audience research and impact evaluation. Students analyze the elements of successful survey design and implement these strategies in a survey they create themselves.


ESM 437 Writing Skills for Environmental Professionals (2 units) Lisa Leombruni

Effective communicators understand that strong writing skills and a well-structured argument are necessary to generate any form of compelling media or outreach. This course helps students become more comfortable with the writing process, giving them confidence in the power of their writing.


EDS 240 Data Visualization and Communication (4 units) Stacy Rebich-Hespanha

Good environmental messaging often relies on facts and figures, but these tools are only effective if properly visualized. In this course, students gain exposure to different datasets and practice interpreting and presenting them for different audiences. This course is a part of the Master of Environmental Data Science program.

*Enrollment in EDS 240 requires approval by the instructor.


ESM 441 Environmental Media Production (2 units) Staff

With the growing popularity of video, the Communication focus provides students the opportunity to learn video production skills. Students learn the fundamentals of video production, including cinematography, lighting, sound, and editing. To gain confidence in media production, students work together to develop short, compelling videos on an environmental topic of their choice.


ESM 442 Communication for Civic Engagement & Grassroots Organizing (2 units) Heather Hodges

This is an exciting opportunity for students to gain practical exposure to a wide range of civic engagement surrounding the environment. Building upon lectures covering theoretical skills, students meet and learn from local environmental leaders across a broad spectrum of organizations.

ESM 430 Environmental Negotiation (1 unit) John Jostes

Due to the polarized nature of many environmental topics today, environmental leaders are continuously confronted by conflicting viewpoints and priorities. To help prepare students for this reality, this course trains them how to work with different stakeholders to reach mutually agreeable decisions.

ESM 295A Equity & the Environment (2 units) Dena Montague

This seminar-style course will provide an overview and foundational understanding of environmental justice. We will start by examining different attempts to define “environmental justice” and review a brief history of approaches to understanding and applying environmental justice. We will also consider how communication and outreach can support environmental justice outcomes.

ESM 295B Advanced Topics in Environmental Justice (2 units) Dena Montague

This course considers what it means to rectify environmental injustices and create meaningful change. Understanding historic and systemic oppression, silenced voices, colonialism, racism, and lack of representation of marginalized groups is essential knowledge for anyone working in the environmental field. But where do we go from here? This course considers ways that we can co-develop equitable solutions and share power and access responsibly—with sensitivity, creativity, and resourcefulness.

Course Descriptions
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