Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Geography and Geology

Additional Departmental Affiliation


Document Type



As the environmental sciences expand with the intent to more fully analyze and understand human interactions with the environment in a time of rapid environmental change, a need has arisen to more widely communicate new environmental knowledge with the public; however, environmental communication efforts often fail to capture the interest of audiences in relatable, emotional ways. This research constitutes an exploratory evaluation of the potential of choral music to effectively communicate climate change to musical audiences using Iceland as a geographic backdrop. Based on the author’s own experiences regarding climate change in Iceland, a three-movement original choral composition Icelandic Sketches: Stories of Climate, Tourism, and Change was composed by the author, and narratives of climate change and tourism in Iceland were embedded into the musical and textual elements of the piece. The piece was premiered by the Western Kentucky University Chorale; several survey methods were utilized to evaluate how both the singers and the audience members attending the premiere responded to, learned from, and interpreted the content of the piece. As Icelandic Sketches was rehearsed, the interpretive discussions between the singers and the ensemble director were observed. Findings indicate that both singers and audience members were more knowledgeable about climate change and tourism in Iceland after exposure to the piece, supporting the conclusion that choral music can be utilized as an effective platform for environmental communication that appeals to the emotions, intellect, and interests of musical consumers. Survey results emphasize the importance of connecting the textual and musical elements of the composition to strengthen the audience and singers’ emotional responses to the environmental content embedded within vii the music. This research also verifies a variety of compositional and performance strategies that support effective environmental communication through music; these strategies may be adopted by future researchers, composers, and musical directors.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Leslie North, Dr. Matthew Herman, Dr. Audra Jennings


Environmental Education | Environmental Sciences | Music