Emily Polk is a writer, teacher, scholar, and mother who teaches and writes about community-led responses to climate change, the mobilization of social movements, and climate equity. She developed and taught some of the first courses at Stanford University on Gender and Climate Change, Communicating Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Storytelling. Prior to getting her doctorate, she worked as a human rights and environment–focused writer and editor for nearly ten years around the world, helping to produce radio documentaries in Burmese refugee camps, and facilitating a human rights-based newspaper in a Liberian refugee camp. She has also worked as an editor at Whole Earth Magazine and at CSRwire, a leading global source of corporate social responsibility news. Her own writing and radio documentaries have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, the Boston Globe, NPR, The National Radio Project, AlterNet, Central America Weekly, the Ghanaian Chronicle, and Creative Nonfiction, among others. Her book, Communicating Global to Local Resiliency: A Case Study of the Transition Movement, was released in 2015. Her recent article, "Communicating Climate Change: What went wrong, how can we do better?" was published in the Handbook of Communication for Development and Social Change and is used in classrooms in the US and around the world.

She is an Advanced Lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and has a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Masters in Human Rights from Columbia University. Emily's courses focus on global development, climate change, and environmental justice, and invite students to interrogate the discourses (and assumptions) around the approaches, methods, and ideologies regarding how and when social change happens.

Academic Appointments

  • PWR Advanced Lecturer, Writing and Rhetoric Studies

Administrative Appointments

  • Coordinator Notation in Science Communication, Program in Writing and Rhetoric (2021 - Present)
  • Writing Specialist, School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences (2015 - 2020)

Honors & Awards

  • Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Distinctive Contributions to Undergraduate Teaching, Stanford University (2020)
  • Excellence in Teaching, School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences (2019)
  • Haas Center Faculty Fellow, Haas Center For Public Service (2019)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Environmental Justice Discourse and Literature; Climate Change Communication and the Arts; Community Engaged Learning; Global Social Movements

2023-24 Courses

All Publications

  • Integrating community based participatory research approaches into climate justice digital media projects Youth Created Media on the Climate Crisis: Hear Our Voices Polk, E. Routledge. 2023; 1: 17
  • Fostering Climate Crisis Global Literacies in the Classroom Critical Perspectives on Global Literacies Polk, E., Beach, R., Webb, A., et al Routledge. 2023; 1: 17
  • Towards an ocean-based large ocean states country classification MARINE POLICY Hume, A., Leape, J., Oleson, K. L., Polk, E., Chand, K., Dunbar, R. 2021; 134
  • Situating the Scientist: Creating Inclusive Science Communication Through Equity Framing and Environmental Justice Frontiers in Communication Polk, E., Diver, S. 2020
  • Communicating Climate Change: Where Did We Go Wrong, How Can We Do Better? Handbook of Communication for Development and Social Change Polk, E. Springer. 2018
  • Momentum in the age of sustainability Building up and burning out in a transition town PERMA/CULTURE: IMAGINING ALTERNATIVES IN AN AGE OF CRISIS Polk, E., Wallace, M., Carruthers, D. 2018: 97–105
  • Sustainability and Participatory Communication: A Case Study of the Transition Town Amherst, Massachusetts MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY Polk, E., Servaes, J. 2015; 29 (1): 160-167
  • Communicating Global to Local Resiliency: A Case Study of the Transition Movement Polk, E. Lexington Books. 2015
  • Revolutions, Social Media, and the Digitization of Dissent: Communicating Social Change in Egypt Sustainability, Participation, and Culture in Communication edited by Servaes, J. Intellect. 2013: 137–152
  • Folk Media Meets Digital Technology for Sustainable Social Change: A Case Study of the Center for Digital Storytelling Global Media Journal Polk, E. 2010; 10 (17): 30