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NEW!! Certificate in Environmental Writing

The Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Writing (CEW) is a fantastic new offering for Illinois students wanting to engage the latest research in sustainability science — and to build their skills in environmental communication.

The Certificate is a joint venture of iSEE, the School for Earth, Society, and Environment, and the English Department, and is at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary sustainability programs in the nation.

The motto of the CEW is “turning data into narrative” — learning about the latest scientific research on the environment and how to communicate that research effectively to the public.

When enrolled in the certificate capstone course (498), you will have the opportunity to submit your work for publication in the new iSEE online magazine for student environmental writing, Green Century. If successful, you will work closely with the editors and production staff of Green Century on developing your work to a professional, publishable standard.

The Certificate and new related courses will debut in Fall 2017.

The 3-Step Pathway:

Course Term offered
1) ESE/ENGL 360 Environmental Writing Fall
2) ESE/ENGL 460 Multimedia Environmental Communication Spring
ESE/ENGL 477 Advanced Environmental Writing Fall 2017 *
3) ESE/ENGL 498 Environmental Writing for Publication Coming Spring 2018
*NOTE: 477, which will be offered in Fall 2017, will be offered in the Illinois course catalog as soon as possible in Spring 2017. Please check this page or the catalog to note when registration opens for the course, and THANK YOU for your patience!

About the courses

The first course, 360, emphasizes the student’s “close encounter” with the natural world and the human systems that depend on it. Driven by your own interests, you might learn to write about nocturnal animals, or cities, or the energy grid, or biofuels — the sky is not necessarily the limit!

The second-step courses, 460 and 477, emphasize the deep interconnections between nature and human lifestyles, how everything from food on your table to the jeans you wear flows through complex global chains, with resource costs and waste at each point. How can we make those product chains more sustainable?

The capstone course, 498, brings all you’ve learned to the task of an in-depth writing project, conducted in close partnership with world-class environmental researchers on our U of I campus. The final product, a polished piece of long-form journalism on a vital environmental research topic, will be something you can take with you to potential employers, as the crown jewel of your Certificate in Environmental Writing.


Let’s say you’re interested in taking one of these courses, but don’t want to commit to the certificate. That’s fine, too! We want as many students as possible involved in our Environmental Writing Program.

Faculty committed to teaching in the CEW include Prof. Gillen Wood, a prize-winning environmental historian; Dr. Rob Kanter of the Environmental Almanac; and English Prof. Jamie Jones. For questions, please contact Prof. Wood >>>