By Sarah Fiorello

Can the written word raise ecological consciousness? How might writing help us imagine and enact sustainable futures? These were our big questions in the fall 2020 semester in ENGL 1120: Writing Ecology, a First-Year Writing Seminar at Cornell. Ranging across disciplinary divides, we examined a wide variety of ecologically-minded writing by naturalists, journalists, scientists, poets, fiction writers, and philosophers in order to investigate the diverse strategies that writers have developed for responding to the overwhelming environmental crises of our moment, climate change above all. 

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Read these essays from students in "Writing Ecology," a First-Year Writing Seminar at Cornell.

The Privilege of Gardens

Women of color are disproportionately affected by climate change. Places like the Cornell Botanic Gardens are essential to provide a sense of relief in a world of racism and misogyny.

Water Usage: A Satire

Run the faucet. Let it leak. Break the hydrant. Slip n slide, what a ride. All-style, no-substance satire.

The Great Lakes River Basin

Human consequences in the Great Lakes River Basin—yesterday, today, tomorrow.

The Pine Rocklands: A Dead Land Walking

One of the greatest challenges we face in combating climate change is focusing too much on climate change itself and ignoring the local disturbances that are the root of every environmental problem.

Don’t Worry! We have Aerosols

Research scientists have conducted on the development of aerosols and how they help the environment.

Urban Landscapes and Sustainable Dreams

Urban Landscapes and Sustainable Dreams

Polar Bears Need Help

Polar bears could be extinct by 2100 due to sea ice decline in the arctic regions as the loss of ice considerably influences their survival rate and causes global destruction.

Mekong: Water on the Border

Discover the effects of water management on the ecosystem stability and the civil lives of the citizens in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.

Place Invaders

How invasive species and climate change combine to make each other worse for the world by hurting resources, biodiversity, and habitats.

Combating Climate Change with CRISPR?

How the CRISPR technology can shed light on biological processes that can aid in future conservation efforts and what CRISPR teaches us about emerging technologies.

The Elephant in the Waiting Room

Healthcare accounts for almost 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. How can we make steps towards universal healthcare in the face of growing climate concerns?

The White-Tailed Deer Takeover!

While human-induced climate change has, and will continue to, inevitably disrupt and damage our planet’s fragile ecosystems, a certain species of deer actually benefits from, and even thrives on, its wreckage. Follow along as I describe the complicated relationship between climate change and the white-tailed deer!

Read All About It: The World is Ending Tomorrow!

New research proves that the sky will collapse, and the sun will explode within the next few months, if climate changes goes unchecked.

Climate Change and Hurricanes

Human actions have created global warming, which in turn strengthens destructive hurricanes.

Seashells to Stay at the Seashore

Though finding creative ways to harness sustainable energy is important, it is also important to preserve the well-being of other species besides our own.

The Environmental Cost of Hamburgers

A simple hamburger is responsible for an environmental toll that includes deforestation (necessary to raise livestock for the creation of hamburgers), methane and carbon dioxide emissions (resulting from the bovine digestive system and global transportation of cows), and the overuse of freshwater (to grow livestock).

The Story of Algae and Why it Matters

In our desperate dash to exhibit the most visually stunning pieces of Earth to preserve, we have overlooked the smallest details; the most seemingly insignificant organisms whose presence created life as we know it today and could be the key to save our perishing planet.