Students explore role of film and new media in environmental conservation

December 22, 2011

Fourteen undergraduate students in a UW-Madison class, New Media for Environmental Communication, have created a series of nine short films spotlighting stories of environmental conservation and sustainable living. The films range in topic from the changing landscape of a rural Wisconsin town to one Madison family's challenge to friends, neighbors and themselves to reduce their energy use and live lighter on the planet.

The class was a special section of Geography/Environmental Studies 339 (Environmental Conservation), which is taught by Lisa Naughton and Matthew Turner, both professors of geography and faculty affiliates of the Nelson Institute. The course examines major environmental conservation approaches in the United States and developing countries and how they are influenced by sociopolitical factors, cultural values and scientific understandings of nature.

The New Media for Environmental Communication subsection was led by Kevin Gibbons, a Ph.D. candidate in geography and the Nelson Institute Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development program.

Incorporating themes from the 339 lectures, members of the class explored various ways that people portray, represent and advocate for the environment. Students analyzed different media on a class blog ( and led their own video production projects. You can see each of the student videos below.

Living with Wolves

The Millpond

Sustainable Summers

Small Victories

Redemption Brewed by Coffee

Mad Urban Bees

A Journey to the Madison Underground

Growing Mushrooms (the legal kind)

Greener Faster Better Stronger