COMM 5305: Environmental Communications: Advocacy and Campaigns

Course Description

This experiential course takes place at SMU’s rustic 300-acre campus situated on the outskirts of Taos, New Mexico, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, surrounded by Carson National Forest. The concentration of nonprofit organizations based in the region, coupled with the breath-taking natural landscape, makes the SMU-in-Taos campus an ideal setting for studying environmental cause communications. Students will explore ways in which environmental nonprofits in the Southwest use communication skills and public relations strategies to inform the public, rally support and develop campaigns for promoting their cause.

The course combines class lecture, guest speakers, field trips and visits to Taos-area environmental nonprofit organizations. As such, students will gain first-hand understanding of the challenges facing nonprofits, and the vital role communications plays in their success. Student work will include researching, conducting interviews and writing papers, as well as engaging in social media reporting, with an emphasis on posting blogs about environmental issues in the Southwest.

Public Relations and Communication Studies majors can earn degree credit, but all majors are welcome. Permission of instructor is required as class size is limited.

Instructor Biography

Nina Flournoy is Senior Lecturer in the Division of Communication Studies, Meadows School of the Arts. Flournoy currently teaches courses in strategic communication, global and cultural communication, media relations and nonprofit campaigns. She has taught and managed Comm. Studies student internships in Dallas, Taos and London. She served as director of the SMU-in-London program from 2000 until 2009. In 2011, she led a travel-study J-term class on Environmental Communications, taking students to the Gulf Coast to explore the communication efforts surrounding the BP Oil Spill. Flournoy joined SMU in 1997, after a career in journalism, including roles as regional editor and a correspondent for Women¹s Wear Daily and “W” Magazine, editor for Dallas area magazines and reporting for “D” Magazine, Money, Dallas Morning News, American Way, Texas Business and New York-based Daily News Record. She holds an MLS degree from SMU and a BA in Journalism and Creative Writing from Louisiana State University.

Nina Flournoy
Communication Studies
Umphrey Lee, 217

Learning Outcomes and Benefits

Students in this course will expand their understanding of nonprofit public relations by:

  • Learning the nuances of civil society organizations and ways in which public relations practices support nonprofit advocacy
  • Examining specific environmental issues, and understanding strategies for communicating those concerns to the public, government and key stakeholders
  • Analyzing the role of media in cause communication practices
  • Interacting with nonprofit leaders to gain insight into the challenges facing the nonprofit sector
  • Conducting interviews with environmental leaders
  • Using social media to raise awareness about environmental issues
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