UCC ACE Short courses

Climate Trauma: How societies register and respond to ecological catastrophe CLOSED

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Climate Trauma: How societies register and respond to ecological catastrophe CLOSED

  • Code


  • College

    Adult Continuing Education

  • Duration

    Six weeks, Tuesdays 7-9pm, from 28 January to 3 March 2020

  • Teaching Mode


  • Qualifications

    Cert of Attendance

  • Fees

    €150 See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Entry Requirements

    Students must be minimum eighteen years at course commencement. See Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date

    Friday 17 January 2020

  • Venue

    Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, Room 242, UCC

  • Start Date

    Tuesday 28 January 2020

Course Outline

This course examines various collective strategies used by communities and whole societies to selectively know and understand the dire consequences of escalating climate destruction. In particular, strategies used to disassociate from the trauma of deteriorating environmental and relatedly humanitarian conditions worldwide, considering whether these may be related to deeper problems of alienation, emotional disengagement and accelerated modern living. However, as evidence of eco-system breakdown and air, ocean and land pollution mounts, so too does evidence that such truths are begining to have a qualifying effect on affective reasoning. A greater incidence of environmentally related stress and grief symptoms suggests that emotional receptivity to a suffering nature is growing.

This course notes the significance of these developments to understandings of the deeper impacts of climate change. Exploring not only by-stander behaviour, denial, and evasion but, equally, efforts on the part of some to harness ecological grief and trauma experiences as a medium through which shared encounters with pollution, displacement, loss (e.g., ‘stolen futures’) and disappointment (e.g., with state inaction) can be culturally reinterpreted as a mobilizing force for democratic change (e.g. Extinction Rebellion, Plan B Earth, Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations, YouthStrike4Climate). It will assess factors that occasionally awaken communities to new ways of seeing and relating to climate change and prompt a greater consciousness of perpetrator guilt, thereby precipitating a publicly staged 'coming to terms' with both contemporary and historical wrongdoing. The course aims to extend critical understanding of these issues, bringing a broad range of perspectives to bear on trauma, climate change, affective reasoning, relations of guilt, responsibility, as well as the living power of publics to transform histories of eco-destruction and democratic dysfunctionality.

Week One
The peculiarities of climate trauma. What distinguishes climate trauma from other types of societal trauma (e.g., that arising in relation to some violent past).

Week Two
States of denial - making sense of moral, social and political disengagement from climate destruction, the repetition impulse and the bystander society of today.

Week Three
Embodied trauma - experiences of ecological grief, eco-anxiety, solastalgia, and the interplay between ongoing deteriorations in environmental and human health, both physical and psychological.

Week Four
Working through climate trauma - confronting questions of guilt, histories of wrongdoing (fossil fuel economies, colonialism, expulsion, extractive logics) and nature’s suffering.

Week Five
Learning from catastrophe. Decoding the societal significance of climate guilt, politicized ecological grief, efforts to reclaim the commons, youth activism and radicalized hope.

Week Six
Democratizing climate futures, intergenerational justice, and the social contract.


Course Practicalities

Teaching mode: weekly, face-to-face lectures


Short courses are non assessed. 

Who teaches on this course:

Dr. Tracey Skillington, Department of Sociology & Criminology

Why Choose This Course

The course offers a contemporary assessment of research on collective climate trauma, bridging insights generated by sociological and psychological studies of trauma with those on denial and disassociation, as well as more recent analysis of the critical force of guilt relations in stimulating processes of societal learning from catastrophe and newer understandings of collective wrongdoing. Its content is designed to appeal to a broad audience interested in these issues.


Fees and Costs

The fee for this course is €150.

How Do I Apply

The closing date for applications is Friday 17 January 2020. Fees are listed in each course description. Students register and pay fees before course commencement as follows:

1. Register and pay online by clicking the Apply Now button below. Course commencement is subject to sufficient enrolment. In the event of a course not commencing applicants will be informed and their fees will be returned.

2. Payment may also be made by credit or debit card, cheque, postal order or bank draft made payable to UCC and these should be returned together with a completed application form to Short Courses, Adult Continuing Education, The Laurels, Western Road. Application forms are available from the office or they may be downloaded from the link below.

3. Students may also hand in completed application forms to the office at ACE between 9:15am and 5pm each day prior to the closing date. We regret we are unable to accept cash.

Application Form Jan 2020

Year 1 Modules

Year 2 Modules

Year 3 Modules

Year 4 Modules

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact