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The human struggle to search for solutions for a sustainable future is perhaps the biggest and most important story unfolding today. And visual storytelling is one of the most powerful means to teach and motivate people to transform their lives. People learn, remember, feel empowered, transform their ways of thinking, and adopt new behaviors because of the stories visualized in film, documentaries, art, graphics, and other media and aesthetic narratives.

This learning community will begin the exploration of Environmental & Sustainability topics by taking Environmental Film & Media, which examines how visual forms of media are more than simply educational. Today’s environmental problems and solutions are differently conceptualized and framed, criticized and contested, determined and fought for in and through the art of film and media. We’ll explore works that address some of today’s key environmental challenges: climate change, species extinction, habitation loss, sea level rise, overpopulation, e-waste, and food and water security. We’ll tackle issues of environmental history, ethics, and policy, and consider how each of these are approached in the humanities, and the natural and social sciences. 

In the spring semester we will survey the realm of sustainability in the ESS Keystone course Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental & Sustainability Studies. This course introduces students to a wide range of environmental issues from diverse perspectives so that they can more effectively comprehend and evaluate today’s environmental and sustainability challenges. By participating in this team-taught interdisciplinary course, students will be able to analyze environmental and sustainability issues from multiple angles. 

Environmental Film & Media and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental & Sustainability Studies are part of the new Environmental and Sustainability Studies Certificate Program (ESS), a campus-wide initiative overseen by the Discovery Park Center for the Environment (C4E), and the College of Liberal Arts. Environmental Film & Media fulfills Category One: “Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political Dimensions.” Students from all majors can sign up for ESS through their advisors.  

Students signing up for the ESS Certificate are eligible to become student ambassadors for the ESS program. For information, please email the ESS Coordinator: Dr. Robert P. Marzec, English.


  • Students admitted to any college/major/school

Residential Component

  • Students from this learning community must reside in Hilltop Apartments
  • Information on this residence hall can be found here
  • Students who are required to reside in a different residence hall (e.g. due to the Honors College or athletics participation) or who do not sign a housing contract may not participate in this learning community
  • Your roommate in most cases will be a member of the learning community
  • Completing a housing contract is a separate process from applying for a learning community


Fall and Spring semesters

Associated Classes


ENGL 34100 - Environmental Film and Media 


ENGL 39300 -  Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental and Sustainability Studies

NOTE:  Both courses are part of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Certificate Program (ESS)

Events and Activities Included:

  • Films and Discussions
  • Guest Lecturers
  • Visit to Discovery Park's Ecological Soundscapes
  • Environmental related talks organized by Purdue's Center for the Environment, and Purdue's Climate Change Research Center
  • United Nations Climate Negotiations simulation

Information above is subject to change. If you are placed in the LC, the associated courses will be on your schedule prior to you registering for the rest of your courses.

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