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 the spring 2021 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.

Top Priority: Monarch Conservation

One of the world’s experts in climate adaptation is fighting to defend its title against anthropogenic actions.

From Tides to Pines

Explore how two seemingly contrasting parts of our environment, tide pools and forest fires, can both help us reconsider our current strategies in combating climate change and formulate new ones.

Recycling Won’t Save the Planet

Recycling is not substantial on the global scale and should instead be used to increase environmental awareness in conjunction with other forms of activism.

The Future of Energy

As the world grows, the world and its people constantly change and along with it the growing problem of climate change continues to dawn on us. What can we do to mediate it? What alternatives are out there?

The Future of the National Parks

As global temperatures rise and rapidly cause significant climatic and ecological changes, the survival of America's national parks will depend on a symbiotic relationship between tourism, the environment, and conservation efforts.

The Humble Trout Lily’s Lesson

The trout lily’s specialized biology allows us to practice ecological thought, stressing the existence and consequences of connected ecosystems in a changing world.

What Goes Around Comes Around

Every action, everything we waste, has a chain effect. AguaClara Cornell strives to develop high-reliability, low-cost, and environmentally efficient solutions to global water problems in low-income communities.

When Trees Hug Back

The experience of psychedelic consciousness may spark society’s mobilization to fight climate change.

American Marionettist: A short story on the unequal distribution of global warming

In this short story, “you” are the narrator, a low-income adult working for minimum wage. You are putting on a puppet show for a group of children from high-income families. Open your eyes to the puppetry of the American governmental system, the modern bourgeoisie and proletariat, and climate change as an instigator for aggression.

Climate Change and Your Backyard

Maintaining that perfectly green, pristine lawn may be impacting the environment more than you realize.

Great Kiskadees: Windows to Climate

Birds and humans couldn’t seem more physically different. However, the Great Kiskadee offers insight into the human attitude towards climate change.

How to Make Waste Management Policies Effective

Waste sorting policies in China have encountered many challenges since their implementation. How can the government address them? What makes an environmental policy successful?

Monarchs: Lessons on Climate Change

The monarch butterfly’s struggle with dependence, migration, and metamorphosis help to illuminate the global effects of climate change.

Shared Bikes: A Cooperative Case

Riding to work is a first step toward the reduction of carbon emissions, but we must also keep in mind that such efforts are too local make much progress.

Social Media: Climate Change’s Trojan Horse

Social media presents itself as a great way to spread awareness, but what are the consequences when it becomes people’s only source of information?