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Strategic Environmental Communication and Media

We understand the importance of compelling science stories— a science or management solution is only as effective as your ability to communicate it. Environmental professionals need to engage a wider public now more than ever.

The MESM Strategic Environmental Communication and Media focus gives you the skills to clearly communicate environmental solutions and engage community action.

As a Master of Environmental Science and Management student at Bren, you can choose one or more optional academic focus areas to enhance your master’s experience. The MESM Communication focus is a unique program that provides training in science and environmental communication combined with your master's degree. You will take coursework in and complete a capstone in communication and media – such as outreach and education, video production, gaming, multimedia, public relations, brand strategy, and more – and gain skills that will give you a competitive advantage for employers. 

The Communication focus trains storytellers, strategic thinkers, and compelling communicators to solve environmental problems through creativity, media, and inspired outreach. The strength of the program lies within its innovative coursework, a blend of theory and practice. Our training will help you to create compelling narratives, reach strategically selected audiences, work comfortably within a variety of media formats, and assess your message impact. You will also acquire indispensable verbal and written communication skills and learn media tools such as video production, social media, grassroots organizing, or writing. Bren MESM graduates who have completed the Communication focus have enhanced career opportunities and have been placed everywhere from communication consulting firms, to community outreach management positions, to jobs as organizational spokespeople and strategists.

Three students shooting a video on the beach

Focus Area Coursework

The Communication focus offers several courses in science and environmental communication theory, skill building, and applied client work. Focus areas are optional for MESM students.

To complete the Communication focus, students must take at least 8 units of the following courses. 

8 units required to complete the focus

ESM 269  Survey Design and Environmental Public Opinion (2 units) 
ESM 295A  Equity and the Environment (2 units) 
ESM 295B  Advanced Topics in Environmental Justice (2 units) 
ESM 430  Workshop in Environmental Science and Management (Environmental Negotiation) (1 unit) 
ESM 437  Writing Skills for Environmental Professionals (4 units) 
ESM 440A  Strategic Environmental Communication (2 units) 
ESM 440B  Environmental Storytelling (2 units) 
ESM 441  Environmental Media Production (3 units)  
ESM 442  Communication for Civic Engagement and Grassroots Organizing (2 units) 
ESM 449  Environmental Communication Practicum (Capstone) (4 units) 

Students may also enroll in courses offered in other departments for Bren Communication elective credit, such as EDS 240: Data Visualization and Communication, FAMST 118: Green Screen, and TMP 244: Entrepreneurial Marketing. All courses outside of Bren do not guarantee enrollment and require instructor permission. Your electives must also be approved by the Communication Program manager to count toward the 8-unit Communication Focus elective requirement.

woman singing at mic
Regardless of your specialization at Bren, you should take the Comm Focus. Every position that I interviewed for required some type of effective communication. And being able to cite examples of that and talk about what we did through the Comm Capstone or other classes was really valuable in my interview process. Communication skills are so important for every position, especially the environmental field.
Giovanna Davila
Communications Analyst at Sustainable Apparel Coalition (MESM 2019)
Instructor reviewing video footage on screen in studio

Communication Capstones

The communication capstone project (ESM 449) represents a culmination of the applied skills that Communication focus students learn. This experience helps students build skills and a communication portfolio while working for an external client over ten weeks in spring quarter. Students may also develop their own communication products or expand upon their Master's Group Project or Eco-E Project.

Students and potential clients are encouraged to propose communication capstone projects. Successful projects should focus on a clear goal, such as raising awareness, promoting engagement, creating educational opportunities, or compelling individuals to engage in pro-environmental behavior. They must also incorporate at least two of the following: strategy, narrative/story development, audience research, development of a communication skill or tool.

Get to Know BrenComm

The BrenComm program goes beyond the Communication focus to offer opportunities for students and the community. Learn more about BrenComm and the people behind the trainings and workshops. Explore an archive of past capstone projects and ongoing BrenComm research. Get to know the BrenComm team and alumni, and read the BrenComm blog.

Group of about 15 people stand in two rows for photo
Man on boat in tropical ocean
I analyze a lot of grant proposals and it is really eye opening to see the quality of the proposals and the storytelling aspect. Being at Bren and being a part of the Comm Focus made me hyper-aware of that; how do you get your message across, how do you translate the complex into something that’s digestible? The Comm Focus and the overall work at Bren have really helped me hone in on that.
Keith Shattenkirk
Program Officer of Aquatic Ecosystems at Patagonia (MESM 2015)

Are you ready to solve environmental problems?

Request more information, get to know the Bren School, and start planning your application today.

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