St. Lawrence University
Fellowship Description: 

Jessica Prody used this fellowship to develop an Environmental Communication course focused on climate change. Students in this course contributed to our understanding of the history and global reach of the climate change movement by creating a digital archive of oral histories. This archive was used to create a timeline and map of climate change activism. Through the project, students and users examined how climate change connects to issuees of citizenship, community buiding, and environmentalism.


In an essay entitled "Commencement" Terry Tempest Williams writes, "In the open space of democracy, the health of the environment is seen as the wealth of our communities. We remember that our character has been shaped by the diversity of America's landscapes and it is precisely that character that will protect it." Throughout the essay Williams makes connections between the natural world and our political communities. This is the focus of my research. As an environmental communication scholar I am interested in how nature shapes human communication and how communication shapes human relationships with nature. More specifically, I am interested in how we might use communication to help build communities that are beneficial for both humans and the non-human world. How, for instance, might we use our processes of communication and political debate to help shape communities in which we rely on those in our spaces for material things, such as food, clothing, and even electricity?

Food is the great human equalizer; it is something everyone needs and enjoys (when it's available). Thus, my most recent research has turned to food as a foundation on which to build a productive communicative and political project. At its base food is apolitical, something that individuals across the globe and the political spectrum can identify and see as valuable, but it is currently mired in a variety of politics, as politicians debate the "fat tax," farm subsidies, global food inequities, and the merits of organic food. I ask whether or not we might be able to find a way to remove food from these political quagmires, to use it as a symbolic and material basis for forming better functioning democracies on a local community level in a way that has positive global ramifications for environmental and social justice concerns.

Assistant Professor of Performance and Communication Arts
Jessica Prody