Critical Discourse Analysis Resources

A polar bear and her two cubs walking
Chocolate the Polar Bear and her cubs.
Photo by Emma via Wikimedia Commons, Attribution 2.0.

This series of resources on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) covers a range of approaches to the critical appraisal of written and visual discourse. Beginning with a series of Explainers, we review the basics of CDA; its use in journalism and photojournalism that covers socio-environmental topics like land use and climate change; how socio-environmental (S-E) researchers may use CDA to approach big datasets and reams of policy documents; and how artificial intelligence, social networks, and social media posts provide new techniques for discerning patterns and trends in S-E discourse. 


A person taking a photograph of the landscape with a camera set up on a tripod on a frozen lake
A photographer taking a photo of Baikal Lake, Russia, at sunset.

The four linked lessons may be used individually or in sequence. These lessons provide accessible approaches to CDA based on: 

  • Popular journalism from newspapers and magazines, which analyzes discourse across publication types, among distinct target audiences, and through time.
  • Techniques for deconstructing images linked to S-E news stories, including the emotions, framing, and connotations of rhetorical imagery.
  • Innovative ways to visualize climate datasets so that they impact the viewer and convey data in a way that is also aesthetic, emotional, and filled with urgency. 
  • Approaches for recognizing how rhetorical choices may support policy decisions that disenfranchise marginalized communities' traditional agricultural or land-management practices.