Media and the Environment

Discipline: Media Studies
Instructor: Murphy
Credits: 3

Field Work: Day 2 - Monday, 25 January | Japan Download Syllabus

This course provides students with an understanding of how people’s relationship with the environment is shaped by media and communication. By addressing questions of media ownership and representation, students examine how ideas and issues regarding the environment are bound and circulated through communication networks which privilege different “Earth discourses.”  To better understand these discourses and how they are interrelated, students critically analyze how key tropes, master terms and reoccurring images are related to corporate agendas, national policies, citizens groups, commodity hunger, class conflict, environmental risk, and community activism. Of central interest is how media’s representation of environmental issues promotes modern lifestyles, influences public perceptions of natural resource exploitation and sustainability, and shapes the possibility for environmental action.  Port of call field excursions provide opportunities to visit key media institutions and dialogue with environmental organizations in a given city, with some opportunity to meet and learn from current practitioners in the field.

Field Work

Country: Japan
Day: 2 - Monday, 25 January

In this Field Lab will have Media and the Environment students visiting the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka (Tokyo), Japan. The Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest film animation artists of contemporary cinema, combines in his films motifs from traditional Japanese culture (such as Shinto) and storylines from the West. His work is also infused with strong environmental themes, and thus offers a fascinating case study of how culture, art and environmentalism can coalesce in contemporary popular culture. By visiting the Studio Ghibli’s museum (Miyazaki's studio) students will deepen their understanding of how entertainment media can be used as powerful tools for the articulation of environmentally conscious themes that are at once culturally grounded in the local/national and universally appealing.

Academic Objectives:
1. Learn about the history of one of Japan’s biggest exports—anime—and the environmental themes presented in the films of Studio Ghibli and its chief artist, Hayao Miyzaki (the “Walt Disney” of anime).
2. Gain an understanding of the status and role of Hayao Miyazaki in Japan
3. Develop an understanding of Miyazaki’s creative theory and philosophy through:
i. the presence of environmental themes in Miyazaki’s films.
ii. specific Japanese traditional motifs in Miyazaki's films.
iii. the presence of western story-motifs in Miyazaki's films.