Eco-Grief and Climate Anxiety

The life-altering, world-ending topic they’re still not teaching you about in school

It’s June, and that means and millions of college students are done with academic classes and free to focus on more important matters like catching up on sleep, spending time in the great outdoors … and worrying about climate change. But, with few exceptions, college courses haven’t been doing a great job preparing young people to face real-world problems and emotions related to global warming.

Professor Jennifer Atkinson is in charge of one of those exceptions, a seminar at the University of Washington, Bothell on “Eco-Grief and Climate Anxiety.” She likens the course to “boot camp, preparing students for the long, hard fight ahead.” Her class explores climate issues and environmental issues through literature, poetry, film, and the arts. As part of the Winter 2019 offering, students prepared responses from David Wallace-Wells’ grim prognosis of our climate future in ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’ and arranged outdoor experiences. As a final group project, they had to develop a climate change website, handbook, or proposed retreat to help others cope with the “anger, grief, and despair that can arise in the face of our environmental crisis.”

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