• University of Glasgow

Communicating Climate Change for Effective Climate Action

Develop your climate communication skills as you learn the techniques to empower people to take urgently-needed climate action.

900 enrolled on this course

protest sign for climate action that says 'fight today for a better tomorrow'.

Communicating Climate Change for Effective Climate Action

900 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Enable others to engage with climate change action

Climate communication is vital to help equip present and future generations of decision-makers with the knowledge to take action. We need communication that drives engagement to help close the climate commitment gap that exists in government and across the public, private, and third sectors.

This four-week course will help you develop the skills to effectively communicate the science and pressing issues surrounding the climate crisis.

By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of climate change communication, why it is so urgently needed, and how you can drive powerful communication that inspires people to act.

Unpack the communication challenges for climate change

As you start to explore the common challenges associated with communicating climate science, you’ll learn how to use trusted sources when discussing climate change.

With this knowledge, you’ll develop the skills to successfully navigate these challenges to promote engaged action.

Discover the principles for effective communication

To help ensure you deliver a persuasive message, you’ll investigate the techniques and principles for effective communication.

You’ll learn how to connect with your audience to help you deliver relatable, clear, and purposeful points.

Learn how storytelling can help communicate climate science

You’ll discover how you can use storytelling to raise engagement as you learn how to put the principles of effective communication into practice.

Guided by the experts at the University of Glasgow, you’ll gain a solid understanding of the urgency and importance of climate action. You’ll finish the course with the skills to effectively communicate climate change in a way that motivates people to take positive action.


  • Week 1

    Why is effective communication needed?

    • Course Introduction

      You have likely seen good examples of climate communication that have made you think that climate change is important and even provoked you to act. Here we will help you avoid common pitfalls to effective climate communication.

    • Preconceived notions of climate change

      Climate change can evoke different reactions. Whether you are simply bringing it up in conversation around the dinner table or with friends in a cafe - you may be surprised at the variety of reactions. Let's have a look at: Why?

    • Why climate action is needed now

      We are continually bombarded with news about how the climate is changing and that we need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So, why is it important to act now?

    • Wrapping up Week 1

      This activity is a checklist and reminder of what you have explored in Week 1 - Why is Effective Communication Needed?

  • Week 2

    Principles for effective communication

    • Intro to Week 2

      In Week 1 we learned why effective communication is needed around climate change and some of its challenges. This week we will explore principles for effective communication and consider how they apply to climate change.

    • Know your audience

      The first principle for effective communication is to know your audience. Here we will have a look at what that means for climate communication.

    • Be clear and comprehensive

      Knowing your purpose in communicating, being clear about your message, and making your message as easy to understand as possible are all key tenets of successful communication.

    • Make behavioural change easy

      The purpose of effective climate communication is to inspire and enable others to act toward positive outcomes for climate change. The easier you make this, the more success you will have in engaging action.

    • Use storytelling

      Storytelling is an extremely effective mechanism to connect and engage your audience. We have devoted a whole week, Week 4, to this topic. Here we will have an introductory look into storytelling in the context of climate change.

    • Wrapping up Week 2

      Here we provide a checklist of activities you should have engaged with in Week 2.

  • Week 3

    Storytelling to raise engagement for climate action

    • Introduction to Week 3

      Welcome to Week 3 of the Communicating Climate Change course. This week Dr Ria Dunkley will be looking at raising engagement for climate action. We will explore techniques for increasing engagement, including storytelling using

    • Why is a good climate story essential?

      In this third video for Week 3, we will consider storytelling's importance to climate engagement. We will begin with discussing the centrality of stories within cultures, moving on to discuss storytelling techniques.

    • Story maps for climate change engagement

      This article explores the story mapping approach for represented multimodal data to inspire climate action.

    • Wrapping up Week 3

      This video closes Week 3 of the Communicating Climate Change Course.

  • Week 4

    Principles of effective communication in practice

    • Intro to Week 4

      In Week 4 we will build on lessons from Weeks 1-3 to critically explore how to make sure that communication is engaging, effective and enables our audience to act.

    • Using creative approaches to engage and enable action

      This activity explores creative ways that others have used objects, visual aides and other forms of communication to engage their audience.

    • Tangible actions that make a difference

      In this activity the spotlight is on local government and communication techniques and strategies to assist with behavioural change.

    • Storytelling that connects to your audience's values

      In this section, we have identified several different stories that use the principles of effective communication in various ways and invite you to engage in discussions on what you think works, or doesn't work.

    • Wrapping up Week 4

      In this final activity we invite you to contribute to a discussion sharing your key learnings from this programme and sharing things that might be helpful to other learners as they apply these ideas in practice...

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the challenges associated with communicating climate science.
  • Critically explore communication challenges including issues of trust in communicating climate science and engaging action.
  • Evaluate the principles of effective communication and storytelling in raising engagement.
  • Evaluate why there is a need for engaged action to address the climate emergency.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone who wants to develop communication skills in the field of climate change.

You’ll learn how to communicate the need and basis for climate action, whether you’re delivering your message in the workplace or in your personal life.

What software or tools do you need?

No specific software, hardware or other resources are required for this course.

Who will you learn with?

As Director of the Centre for Sustainable Solutions and Professor of Environmental and Climate Science at the University of Glasgow, I am interested in enabling people to act for a sustainable future.

I'm an Honorary Fellow in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences at Glasgow University. My career has spanned academia, public sector and consultancy. I’m passionate about sustainable business.

Dr Ria Dunkley is a Senior Lecturer in Geography, Environment & Sustainability within the School of Education & Associate Director of the Centre for Sustainable Solutions at the University of Glasgow.

Who developed the course?

The University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities.

  • Established

  • Location

    Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 70Source: QS World University Rankings 2020

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 21 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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