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Environmental Writing

The Environmental Writing focus offers students the opportunity to develop their writing skills and interests in ways that promote and demonstrate environmental concerns, awareness, and sensitivities. The culminating project for the Writing focus can be a thesis, professional paper, or portfolio. The diversity of thesis project possibilities (see Thesis/Portfolio Summary tab at top of page) mirrors, on a Program scale, the great range in what is often called Nature Writing, Environmental Writing, or the Writing of Place in the wider culture.

Students are encouraged to conceive of their Writing focus thesis project as either a book in progress, a prototype for a book, a series of related non-fiction creative works with individual publication possibilities, and/or a thorough book proposal, including sample chapters or excerpts. Environmental Writing thesis work should be original, compelling, and impassioned; grounded in knowledge of the tradition and field; informed and critical as to the issues it raises; and written to publication standards.

Courses Offered

Environmental Writing (ENST 573)

Offered in fall

Instructor: Mark Sundeen

Environmental Writing is a workshop class designed to help students hone their writing of environmental subjects and concerns for a general audience. The course inspires, challenges, and encourages students in their writing, and introduces them to a wide range of readings. The workshop is a community of writers based in honesty, courtesy, commitment to craft, and shared enthusiasm for good writing and a more thoughtful world.

Earth Storytelling: Nature, Climate, Resistance (ENST 594)

Offered in spring

Instructor: Mark Sundeen

In this seminar, we will consider works of environmental literature, both as creators and as critics. We will examine works of fiction, essay, memoir, literary journalism, science fiction, poetry, and film that interrogate the human relationship with nature, climate change, and racial justice. We will look both at the writer’s craft as well as over-arching thematic concerns. Students may choose to write analytical or creative papers.

Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer (ENST 594)

Instructor: Varies

The Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer in the Environmental Studies Program brings an outstanding writer to teach a semester-long graduate writing course in Environmental Studies each spring semester. See the list of our current and past visiting writers.

180 Environmental Research Topics & Questions to Write about

Environment affects us all, whether we want it or not. Political leaders and students alike discuss ways to tackle environmental topics & issues. Some might argue about the role humans play in all this. The fact remains that our environment is a delicate matter. That’s why we must educate ourselves on the issues related to it.

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In this article by custom writing experts, you’ll find a list of environmental research questions to scrutinize and write about. The environmental essay topics in the collection below are related to economics, health, sociology, law, and even psychology. These ideas might be helpful either for school or for college students.

Top 10 Environment Essay Topics

️ Environmental Research Topics on Climate Change

Throughout history, the Earth’s climate always fluctuated. Ice ages were followed by warmer periods. However, the increase in temperature we perceive today is unusual. Because of this, climate change is one of today’s most pressing problems. Below we have compiled a list of 25 global warming topics. Have a look!

Environmental Research Topics on Ecology

Ecology is a branch of biology that investigates how organisms coexist. The environment shapes the way different species interact with each other. Essential factors can be living, such as nutrition, or nonliving, like water. Here are 25 prompts for your ecology essay:

Sustainability Topics for an Essay

According to the UN World Commission, sustainable development “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Simply put, sustainability means fulfilling the demand without exhausting any resources. Today, it plays a vital role in protecting the environment.

Environmental Science Topics for an Essay

Environmental science combines various approaches to study nature. In doing so, it tries to find solutions for ecological issues. Research goes into areas such as pollution and alternative energy. If you want to write about it, have a look at our topics:

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⚖️ Environmental Law Topics for Papers

Environmental law aims to protect nature. It’s the legal foundation of human interaction with their surroundings. Besides, it formulates how we should utilize natural resources. Take a look at these compelling topics for your paper:

Environmentalism Topics to Write About

Movements aiming to protect nature are at the core of environmentalism. The idea first gained traction in the 1960s. Notable organizations include PETA and Greenpeace. If you’re interested in environmentalism, consult this topics list:

Top 10 Environmental Research Topics

Top 10 Environmental Research Questions

We hope this article helped you decide what your paper will be about. If the topic you’ve chosen is still not perfect, feel free to customize it! Good luck, and have fun with your essay.

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Environmental Writing Prompts

These writing prompts on the environment are perfect for fourth grade, fifth grade, middle school and high school students. The prompts will encourage them to start thinking more about the world around them, while challenging them to write essays about the environment. Whether you are discussing recycling, air pollution, or what to do with public lands, these environmental writing prompts will get your students thinking a little greener.

Writing Prompts for Younger Grades

→ Writing Prompt 1:
A king has granted you the superpower of saving the earth. What three things will you do to help nature or animals survive?

→ Writing Prompt 2: Think of a clean, sandy beach and then imagine it filled with food wrappers, water bottles, and plastic bags that people did not throw away. How does the image of the dirty beach make you feel? What can you do to convince your friends of the importance of not littering?

→ Writing Prompt 3: If one of your classmates litters outside on the playground, it probably doesn’t seem like a big deal. But what if none of you threw away your trash? How long would it take for you not to be able to play on your playground?

→ Writing Prompt 4: Write a story about a recycled item, like a can, a water bottle or a plastic bag, and tell about its adventures along the way.

→ Writing Prompt 5: Studies show that very few people recycle. Consequently, the earth is being overrun with trash. Why should we recycle and how would you convince your family to do it?

For Older Grades

→ Writing Prompt 6 : Honey bees not only make honey; they also pollinate about 80% of all the fruits and vegetables that we eat. Therefore, everything from apples to zucchini is available to us because of the hard work of the honey bee. And yet, they may be headed for extinction. Why do you think this is happening? Could it be the result of the toxic chemicals we use? Some have suggested that a possible reason is all of the cell phones and radio frequencies have caused electromagnetic interference. Write an essay on what you believe might be the cause, and what you think we can do to keep the honey bees from becoming extinct.

→ Writing Prompt 7: Our world produces hundred of millions of plastic bags, which are intended to be reused, but are often used only once. Should they be banned? If they are banned, what would people use to line their trashcans, throw out dirty diapers, or take wet towels home from the beach?

→ Writing Prompt 8: There is a Native American saying which states, Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Do you think that we should live this philosophy in our daily lives in order to keep Earth viable for future generations? What types of things can each of us do that will make a difference generations from now?

→ Writing Prompt 9: Pick an animal that is facing possible extinction and write a story where you are the animal. Write about your typical day and explain the types of things you do each day to survive.

Writing Prompts on the

→ Writing Prompt 10: The anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Do you believe that’s true? What do you think a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can do to help our environment? Pick a subject (animal extinction, saving the rain forest, cleaner water for all people around the world, or whatever is important to you). Then write about what people could do in their day-to-day lives to change the world for the better.

→ Writing Prompt 11: It is estimated that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every day due to the deforestation of rain forests. That means we are losing over 50,000 species every year. The reason the land is being cleared is for the timber, for mining operations, and to provide grazing areas for large scale cattle ranching. What do you think can or should be done to stop the deforestation?

→ Writing Prompt 12: According to the environmental website,, plastic water bottles don’t begin composting for 700 years. That means if water bottles were in existence in the 1300’s and someone threw one out, it would only start composting now. Does reading something like this make you think twice before buying water bottles? Or does the convenience for people outweigh the environmental impact? What do you think we should do to convince people not to use plastic water bottles?

→ Writing Prompt 13: Your class has been studying ways of improving our environment. One of these ways is by recycling items you would normally throw away. This might be an empty paper towel roll, empty milk carton, or plastic forks and spoons. Explain how you can create or recycle something from a discarded item or throwaway.

→ Writing Prompt 14: Gasoline and diesel powered engines are a necessary part of modern life, but they have an affect on the environment. Write an essay that discusses the environmental impact of the use of gas and diesel engines versus what these devices provide for society.

→ Writing Prompt 15: Water is life. There is the same amount of water now on Earth as when it was first created. For us, it’s easy; we turn on the tap and there it is. Yet in Africa and Asia, women and children spend about 6 hours a day collecting water and walk, on average 3.7 miles a day to do so, according to This is time they should be spending in school or caring for their families. Think of five ways you and your family could conserve water.

→ Writing Prompt 16: The mayor has to make a big decision. He must decide if the vacant land in your community should be used for a new shopping mall or for a park. Write a letter to the mayor giving your opinion and state why you chose the answer you did.

→ Writing Prompt 17: Picture your favorite nature spot. It could be a park or a camping site, a beach or even your own backyard. Now envision what it would look like if no one had thrown out any of the garbage they’ve used there for the last two years. See in your mind the water bottles, plastic bags, and fast food bags littered all over. Two years worth! Do you think it makes much of an impact if each of us just takes care of our own little corner of the earth? Why or why not?

Writing Prompts on the Environment

→ Writing Prompt 18: A tract of land is being sold in your community. Fictitious bidders include the National Park Service, a children’s hospital, a shopping-mall developer, an oil drilling company, and the U.S. Armed Forces. Choose one and become a lobbyist for one that group writing arguments on behalf of their interests.

→ Writing Prompt 19: “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” Think about that Benjamin Franklin quote for a moment. Think about how often (brushing your teeth, taking a shower, flushing a toilet, cleaning your clothes, washing dishes, and cooking meals) and how easily we use water. We merely open a tap, push a button, grab a water bottle, etc. Now imagine waking up to no water. How would you cope? What would you do?

→ Writing Prompt 20: What are the man-made causes for plants and animals to go extinct?

→ Writing Prompt 21: Before Earth Day was created in 1970 it was legal for factories to spew toxic smoke into the air and dump toxins in nearby streams. Senator Nelson decided to do something about it, so he created Earth Day, which in turn created the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Write an essay on how damaged our planet (and our health) would be today, if Senator Nelson had not pushed for a cleaner environment.

→ Writing Prompt 22: On average, people waste a gallon of water each time they brush their teeth if they let the faucet run. Picture ten soda cans full of wasted water. That would be 20 water-filled soda cans if you brush twice a day. If you’re a family of five, that would be 100 cans of wasted water every single day. Do you think knowing these facts will make you more aware when you brush your teeth? Why or why not?