Saturday, February 28, 2015

''Cli-fi'' in the classroom: university classes on "cli-fi" proliferating worldwide

'Cli-Fi' in the Classroom .........(almost sounds like a refrain in a new pop song -- 'Cli-Fi' in the Classroom, 'Cli-Fi' in the Classroom, 'Cli-Fi' in the Classroom

I am hearing from more and more academics and professors who are TEACHING cli fi classes this year, last year and planning classes and courses on cli fi literature for 2016 and future years too. CLI-FI is really catching on in academia and in college classrooms! And this is good for cli fi novelists and short story writers and movie makers BECAUSE it means the meme is sprreading like wildfire and a new audience of students will be your r...eaders.

 JUST TODAY i received this email from a professor in western Massachusetts who with her colleagure is teaching a cli fi class this semester. ................................

SHE WRITES: ..................."NOTE: ''The final project of the class will
have students **write their own Cli-Fi short stories.***''

I found your name in a google search when I was trying to learn more about
the term ''cli-fi'' and when the genre was first identified, and I saw
the term in a Wikipedia article, and from there I
found your website and blog.

I and a colleague are teaching a college course in ''Cli-Fi'' at
our local Community College in western Massachuseets. Our college is very supportive
of interdisciplinary learning, allowing us to develop "Learning
Communities" combining two courses from two different disciplines.

course, titled "Cli Fi: Stories and Science from the Coming Climate
Apocalypse," combines Introduction to Literature and a lab science. We
meet with our students for 6 hours a week plus a 2 1/2 hour lab.

We are using the short story collection titled *I'm with the Bears*, edited
by Mark Martin. Our students will also be reading Paolo Bacigalupi's *Windup
Girl* and Elizabeth Kolbert's *The Sixth Extinction*. We plan to show the movie
*Avatar* and maybe *Snow Piercer*.

The final project of the class will
have students write their own Cli-Fi short stories.

We have had some great
class discussions so far.

When I saw your email address online in my Googling, I just thought I'd reach out and say hi and
thank you for identifying the genre that we have built
our course around. We will direct our students to your new website --

If you have any suggestions or resources to share with us, please do. By
the way, I went to Tufts University in Boston, too! I graduated in 1986.
Best regards,

With "cli-fi" classes now being taught at.....Unversity of Oregon (2014 and 2015), Temple University (2015) and over a dozen other colleges worldwide, from Australia to UK, and everywhere in between....COOL! ! .....i am compiling a list of those universities teaching cli fi classes now or planning to do so soon. So IF YOU HAVE spotted or heard of these new cli fi classes in your area of expertise OR if you are planning to teach one in the future, let me know here. I think things just got started with cli fi in the classroom in 2014, and the NY Times article by Richard Perez-Pene helped set the meme on fire. And i think i see a new TREND developing here and i intend to monitor it and archive it: SO SEND me any cli fi in the classroom sightings YOU HAVE SEEN or know about. One this thing gets started, there will be no stopping it in academic settings, and I can even foresee entire departments of literature and cinema devoted to cli fi in the future, with students getting their PHDs with theses written about the cli fi genre and meme. So this will last a long long time now, 100 years and more, and it just got started?

Send me your sightings!

And congrats to Stephanie LeMenager a pioneer in this genre in the classroom and PHD candidate Stephen Siperstein at UO and PHD candidate Ted Howell at Temple University and Elitzabeth and Steve in western Massachusetts and dozens of others doing this. IT HAS BEGUN!



5 thoughts on “Some Thoughts about a Climate Fiction Class”

lwells on February 26, 2015

It’s funny because I had a really similar response when I first came to this class, as I’m assuming many others probably did as well. What’s really interesting though, is your thoughts about how nothing can really be done in order to completely “fix” climate change. I really like that you spoke about this because it’s a different angle than most people seem to have been taking on here. For the most part I’ve seen posts about making a change and figuring out the solution to this massive problem, when in reality I think you’re right in saying that there isn’t a solution that is simply going to create that “happily ever after” ending. I do however, disagree with your statement that “No one is able to do anything about it except keep on carrying on until they eventually die, or there is some form of resolution.” because I do think there is something we can do. The change might not be so drastic as to alleviate the problem completely, but I do think that the combination of smaller, individual efforts can in fact make a positive change.


Maria on February 26, 2015

I reacted the same way as well. I was really confused about the concept of climate change fiction and didn’t know what to expect at all. It’s really easy to think that you know everything there is to know about general problems with climate change, and it’s only when you start to pay attention to different articles and aspects that you realize how much you don’t know. It’s hard to get used to feeling like it will not get better or that feeling of hopelessness that we’ve been finding at the end of stories. Unsettling, yet necessary to realize that we have changes to make.


Casey Leach on February 27, 2015

This is a really interesting post because some of the things you mentioned, I never thought about in depth before. I had the same initial reaction when I got into the class and my initial thought was, “Well this is Oregon, it makes sense we would have a class revolved around climate change.” However, I never thought much in depth about the part you said about how cli-fi makes you feel as if something is missing. I completely agree with this statement because I always wondered why it felt that way and now it makes complete sense.


Natalia Salzetti on February 27, 2015

I totally agree with you I came into this class not knowing what to expect and the only thing I knew about global warming was from watching the Al Gore movie. But it is weird to think what if we had to hunt for water and food. I feel like things could be so much worse for us than they are right now.


csmith12 on February 27, 2015

This is an interesting post and I have to agree with you. I felt the same way coming into the class but now I am happy I took it. The last paragraph sums it up nicely about how climate change fiction helps give a further understand of real world situations.



Some Thoughts about a Climate Fiction Class

 2 days ago  mmcewen

I remember coming into the first day of class not knowing what to expect. All I knew about English 104 was that it was an Intro to Fiction class that would have an assigned topic on which we would focus, and on which our class would be revolved around. To my surprise the topic was Climate Change and I had no idea what to expect.

My initial thought was to get myself out of the class as soon as possible. All of my knowledge about global warming and climate change could be wrapped up in a couple Al Gore videos I had to watch in high school, and even then I couldn’t tell you much other than the fact I remember him saying the words “global” and “warming.” Yes I knew to recycle and to walk as much as possible and leave the lights off when I wasn’t using them and all that jazz.

I knew that global warming was in fact a real thing, and I knew that it was/is happening, but at the same time in my mind, I kept thinking “but nothing is happening.”

But still, I wasn’t sure as to what global warming really was, and to be completely honest I’m still no expert. But this I do know, after reading and being involved in a class that focuses on post-apocalyptic settings having experienced the consequences of something that has happened DUE to climate change, today, I sit up a little straighter and pay attention when I hear the words “global” and “warming.”

Since being introduced to Cli-Fi, I’ve found myself thinking about some serious issues that I’d never thought about before. Not actively thinking in a state of paranoia like protagonist Mitchell Zukor in Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich (the novel we just read in class), but at random times, zoning out in class, drifting in thought in the comfort of my own home, I would think;

“What if I had to hunt, like physically sneakily hunt, for WATER?”

“What if something bad happened, an accident, a fire, a night when I’d had one too many, and I needed to seek medical attention, and there were no hospitals?”

“What if they were unable to create a vaccine for this strain of meningitis that has recently hit our campus and already killed on of our students?”

All very real illustrations of things that have happened and that are happening in these pieces of climate fiction. And the worst part? No one is able to do anything about it except keep on carrying on until they eventually die, or there is some form of resolution.

That is another thing that has ignited some sort of response in me, the lack of a resolution. A lot of theses stories end with a message of hopelessness. It seems in most genres of literature, and in most forms of entertainment, there is an ending where everything falls back into place and for the most part, everything is “how it should be” again.

That is the issue with cli-fi, it makes you feel as though something is missing. But when you think about it, that makes sense because nobody knows how to totally resolve the issues that have arisen from global warming. So when writing about it, it would be untrue and a bit too fictitious to have a “and they all lived happily ever after” ending.