Oral History Project
Climate Change Teach-In
Course Syllabi Examples

Public Outreach

Note: As part of our initiative to increase public outreach, we are looking to grow our resources that help section members engage with the wider public (e.g., social media use tutorials, guides for writing opinion pieces, guides for writing press releases, how to talk to policymakers, engagement in public sociology, etc.). If you have any materials or knowledge that you would like to contribute to growing this shared resource, please send an email to Nathan Lindstedt, Section Webmaster, at

Oral History Project

Dorceta Taylor

A video interview between Beth Caniglia and Dorceta Taylor can be viewed here. (MP4)

Penelope Canan

A video interview between Beth Caniglia and Penelope Canan can be viewed here. (MP4)

Shirley Laska

A video interview between Beth Caniglia and Shirley Laska can be viewed here.    (MP4)



Bill Freudenburg

A transcribed interview between Dana Fisher and Bill Freudenburg can be viewed here. (PDF) This document was presented at the ASA annual meeting in 2011.

Climate Change Teach-In

This is a comprehensive collection of resources for sociology instructors who are considering spending a day on climate change. Suggestions for additional resources are gladly accepted. Please send them to Kari Norgaard at

The resources are divided into two categories: General Resources, such as readings, films, and internet sites dealing with climate change, and Course-Specific Resources, which offer discussion questions and other materials for courses such as Introduction to Sociology, Social Problems, Sociology of Media, and many others.

General Resources

In addition to the resources listed below, also consult Jim Mulherin’s (UCSC) website and book list (PDF) on climate change and energy crises.

Members of the section have also compiled an extensive environmental sociology literature on climate change, made available here. (PDF)

General Readings
  • National Academies. “Understanding and Responding to Climate Change”. 2008. A summary of the state of the science for general audiences. (link)
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Synthesis Report”. 2007. (PDF)
  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “Impacts, Vulnerabilities, and Adaptation in Developing Countries”. 2007. (PDF)
  • United Nations Development Programme. “Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World”. 2008. (link)
  • Hansen, James. “How Can We Avert Dangerous Climate Change?” 2007. (PDF)
  • Hansen, James. “The Threat to the Planet”. New York Review of Books. 2006. (link)
  • Kolbert, Elizabeth. “Field Notes from a Catastrophe”. Bloomsbury Publishers. 2006. (link)
  • Hertzgaard, M. “While Washington Slept”. Vanity Fair. 2006. (link)
  • Gore, Al. Remarks Made at NYU-Law. 2006. (link)
  • McKibben, Bill. “The Coming Meltdown”. New York Review of Books. 2006. (link)
  • Congressional Budget Office. “The Economics of Climate Change: A Primer”. 2003. (PDF)
Films to Consider
  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • Baked Alaska
  • Boiling Point: The Global Climate Crisis
  • Everything’s Cool
  • Heat (Frontline PBS)
  • Hot Politics (Frontline PBS)
    Kari Norgaard, Whitman College (previously): Details the political issues involved in global warming; excellent interviews with top officials (gov’t and scientific experts) on global warming and why the U.S. has not been involved in international treaties, etc. Available to watch online, one-hour long, but can view separate chapters.
  • Oil on Ice
  • Out of Balance: ExxonMobil’s Impact on Climate Change
    Kari Norgaard, Whitman College: This documentary includes a concise overview of the basic science of climate change (which I skipped over for my class full of Environmental Studies majors), outlines the economic history of the company from its origins as Standard Oil, and shows the strategies ExxonMobil has used to create public confusion about the issue. I recommend stopping the film at the point where one of the commentators notes that the problem is “systemic”. After that quote, the filmmaker advocates boycotting Exxon and switching to biofuels for personal vehicles, recommendations that go against that important structural point. (Plus I would not want to advocate biofuels for many reasons.)
  • The 11th Hour
    Kari Norgaard, Whitman College: Consider showing the middle section on corporate actors and economic structure – important areas of focus conveniently missing from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.
  • Rising Waters: Global Warming and the Fate of the Pacific Islands
Tips, Actions, Etc.

Course Specific Resources

Social Problems
Introduction to Sociology
Sociology of Religion
Sociology of Media
Political Sociology / Social Movements
Sociology of Health and Illness / Medical Sociology
Sociology of Emotions
Social Stratification / Environmental Justice
Social Psychology

Social Problems

Courses in Social Problems might consider questions such as: How has climate change been created as a social problem by different interest groups? How does climate change reflect larger questions of how social problems rise and fall in urgency in our society? What examples can be found of social problems indirectly linked to climate change? Does climate change interact with other social problems in particular ways? See the general resources page and also peruse specific ideas for other courses.

Introduction to Sociology

Introductory courses in sociology might consider questions such as: How does social inequality influence different social groups’ vulnerability to climate change? See also other questions and readings listed under media, religion, and stratification below.

Sociology of Religion

What role do environmental problems play in re-shaping religious communities today? How has the consideration of environmental problems as moral issues changed over time? How has climate change in particular split the evangelical community? What is the significance of a religious dimension of the environmental movement? How might this intersect (or not) with secular aspects of the movement?

Internet Resources:
Readings on Religion and the Environment (not specific to climate change):
  • Gottlieb, R.S. “A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet’s Future”. Oxford University Press. 2006.
  • Hendricks, S. “Divine Destruction: Wise Use, Dominion Theology and the Making of American Environmental Policy”. Melville House. 2005.
  • McGraw, B. “Rediscovering America’s Sacred Ground: Public Religion and the Pursuit of the Good in a Pluralistic America”. SUNY Press. 2003.
  • Tucker, M.E. “Worldly Wonder: Religions Enter Their Ecological Phase”. Open Court. 2003.

Sociology of Media

Courses on Sociology of the Media might address the host of interesting studies on media framing of climate change.

Internet Resources:
  • Episode of On the Media with interview of Ross Gelbspan (2004)
  • Journalist Ross Gelbspan’s website with updated news stories on climate change from around the world
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute commercials
  • Environmental Defense Global Warming commercial
  • Antilla, L. “Climate of skepticism: US newspaper coverage of the science of climate change”. Global Environmental Change. 2005. (link)
  • Boykoff, M. and Boykoff, J. “Balance as Bias: Global Warming and the US Prestige Press”. Global Environmental Change. 2004. (link to PDF)
  • Dispensa, J. and Brulle, R.J. “Media’s Social Construction of Environmental Issues: Focus on Global Warming”. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. 2003. (link to PDF)
  • Gelbspan, R. “Boiling Point”. Basic Books. 2004.

Political Sociology / Social Movements

  • Hertzgaard, M. “While Washington Slept”. Vanity Fair. 2006. (link)
  • McCright, A.M. and Dunlap, R.E. “Defeating Kyoto: The Conservative Movement’s Impact on U.S. Climate Change Policy”. Social Problems. 2003. (link to PDF)
  • Buell, F. “From Apocalypse to Way of Life: Environmental Crisis in the American Century”. Routledege. 2004.
  • Brulle, R. and Jenkins, J.C. “Fixing the Bungled U.S. Environmental Movement”. Contexts. 2008. (link)
  • Bluhdorn, I. “Symbolic Politics and the Politics of Simulation: Eco-political Practice in the Late-Modern Condition”. Environmental Politics. 2007. (link to PDF)
Internet Resources:
  • Greenpeach site tracing funding flows from Exxon-Mobil’s anti-global warming campaign
  • BBC series on climate skeptics

Sociology of Health and Illness / Medical Sociology

  • Epstein, P.R. “Climate Change and Human Health”. New England Journal of Medicine. 2005. (link to PDF)

Sociology of Emotions

  • Norgaard, K.M. ” ‘People Want to Protect Themselves a Little Bit’: Emotions, Denial and Social Movement Nonparticipation.” Sociological Inquiry 2006. (link to PDF)

Social Stratification and Environmental Justice

Courses in Social Stratification and Environmental Justice might consider how people’s experience of climate change are organized by race, class and gender. The racialized dimension of exposure to “natural disasters” such as hurricanes obviously hit the public consciousness after Hurricane Katrina. On the opposite end of the inequality spectrum, privileged people may encounter emotions of guilt regarding their perpetuation of the problem.

Internet Resources:

Social Psychology

Social Psychology courses might discuss how people perceive climate change, including how they fail to process information about this topic:

  • Bazerman, M. “Climate Change as a Predictable Surprise”. Climate Change. 2006. (link to PDF)
  • Norgaard, K.M. ” ‘People Want to Protect Themselves a Little Bit’: Emotions, Denial and Social Movement Nonparticipation.” Sociological Inquiry 2006. (link to PDF)
  • Ungar, S. “Why Climate Change Is Not in the Air: Popular Culture and the Whirlwind Effect”. Proceedings of the Conference on Climate Change Communication, June 22-24, 2000. (link to PDF)
  • Weber, E. “Experience-Based and Description-Based Perceptions of Long Term Risk: Why Global Warming Does Not Scare Us (Yet)”. Climactic Change. 2006. (link to PDF)

Course Syllabi Examples

Lower Division

Alkon, SOC 111 “Environment and Society”
Broadbent, SOC 1911 “Climate Change and Society”
Cordner, SOC 229 “Environmental Sociology”
Foran, SOC 130SD “The World in 2050: Sustainable Development and its Alternatives”
Foran, INT 133B “What’s Wrong with the World? How Do We Fix It? Perspectives and Solutions from the Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences”
Foran, SOC 134CJ “Climate Justice”
Foran, SOC 134EC “Earth in Crisis”
Godfrey, SOCY 2077 “Environment and Society”
Haney, SLGY 2255 “Environmental Sociology”
Holt, UES 110A “American South and the World”
Holt, UES 210WR “Environmental Problems and Policy”
Li, SOC 135 “Environment and Society”
Luna, SOC 2077 “Environment and Society”
Morrell, SOAN 0236 “Sociology of Food and Agriculture”
Perkins, SOCI 199 “Environmental Inequality”

Upper Division/Graduate

Broadbent, SOC 4305 “Society and the Environment: An Enduring Conflict”
Cordner, SOC 353 “Environmental Justice”
Dunlap, SOC 5463 “Environmental Sociology” (Graduate)
Godfrey, SOCY 4047 “Plants and Society”
Harrison, SOC 4047 “Environmental Justice”
Harrison, SOC 4117 “Food and Society”
Holt, SOC 367 “Environmental Sociology”
Hooks, SOC 2TT3 “Environmental Sociology”
Knight, SOC 369 “Environmental Sociology”
Kojola, ENVI 237 “Environmental Justice”
Li, SOC 333 “Global Environmental Politics”
Mascarenhas, STSS 2300 “Environment and Society”
Mascarenhas, STSS 4965 “Environmental Justice”
McCright, SOC 325 “Science and the Environment: Social Sciences”
McCright, SOC 865 “Environmental Sociology” (Graduate)
Mertig, SOC 415/515 “Environmental Sociology/Society and Environment”
Morrell, SOC 320 “Environmental in(Justice) in America”
Morrell, SOC 370 “Sociology of Knowledge and Food Systems”
Norgaard, ENVS 435/535 “Environmental Justice”
Norgaard, SOC 416/516 “Sociology of Climate Change”
Peek, SOCY 5037 “Hazards, Disasters, and Society”
Sapinski, SOCI 437 “Issues in Environmental Sociology and Climate Change”
Sbicca, SOC 324 “Food Justice”
Sbicca, SOC 364 “Agriculture and Global Society”
Sbicca, SOC 562 “Sociology of Food Systems and Agriculture”
Trivette, SOC 489 “Agriculture, Food, and Society”
Trivette, SOC 4999 “Environmental Sociology”
Zinda, SOC 3240 “Environmental Sociology”