Bio


Emily Polk is an Advanced Lecturer in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric. She has a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Masters in Human Rights from Columbia University. She researches and presents her work focused on climate change communication and the mobilization of global social movements in the digital and public spheres. Prior to getting her doctorate, Emily worked for nearly ten years around the world as a media professional, 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, the Indian Express, Central America Weekly, the Ghanaian Chronicle, and Creative Nonfiction, among others. Her first book, Communicating Global to Local Resiliency: A Case Study of the Transition Movement, was released in 2015.

Emily's PWR courses focus on global development, climate change, and resilience, 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, Stanford Introductory Studies - Program in Writing and Rhetoric

Administrative Appointments


  • Writing Specialist, School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences (2015 - Present)

Honors & Awards


  • 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; Climate Change Communication; Community Engaged Learning; Global Social Movements

2018-19 Courses


All Publications


  • 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
  • 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
  • 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