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By Ava Garcia

I undertook this project to fulfill the requirements of my master’s program in journalism at the University of Arizona as part of the School of Journalism Class of 2019. I decided to focus on climate change nearly two years ago because of my interest in environmental sciences. When I started doing research on climate change in Arizona, I realized many of the headlines focused on the expected impacts of climate change. I decided to take a more action-oriented angle, instead focusing on what people can do to adapt or mitigate the effects of climate change.


And so came my research question: Facing these predicted effects from a changing climate, what were people doing to prepare? I wanted to offer readers a comprehensive look at how different systems and institutions were dealing with climate change’s impending effects on their communities.


I decided to first provide readers a backgrounder on climate change in Arizona, as a foundation to establish what impacts the state could experience. From there, I decided to look into four different areas of response to climate change.


  • First, governmental action. What are governments (both statewide and local) doing about climate change? 

  • Second, businesses. How is the private sector responding to climate change? How does that affect their operations?

  • Third, people’s movements and organizations. What are individual people doing about climate change?

  • And finally, education. How are the future generations, the ones who will live in this changing environment, learning about what is happening? How do they feel about it?


I quickly realized during the reporting process that there is much more to cover on this subject than one graduate project can encompass. There are so many angles to look at this complex issue, and because of that there were facets of the issue I simply was not able to fit into the project. For example, for the government story, I decided not to look into county governments, and I decided to stick to just three city governments, knowing it would be impossible to fit in all cities and counties in Arizona.


I realized throughout the reporting process there are even more ways to look at climate change in Arizona, such as how tribes are preparing for climate change. I could have written a whole other thesis on other climate-change-related questions that kept cropping up in my reporting.


I hope my project serves as an introduction to these topics and provides readers a foundation to take a more critical look at what different institutions in the state are doing about these issues. And I hope it provides them hope that the future doesn't have to be as bleak as some news reports predict.


From research to reporting, this project took over a year and a half. I started doing background research on the topic in late 2017 and defended my project proposal in April 2018.

The majority of information reported in the stories and videos was collected through interviews in person or over the phone. A fair amount of information was also gathered through reports from reputable agencies, and some information was found through news stories, as attributed. Whenever possible, I included the link of an online information source to the story so readers could see where the information came from.

Laptop and Notebook


My graduate project committee chair, Professor Celeste González de Bustamante, and my committee members, Professor Carol Schwalbe and Professor Rogelio Garcia. Thank you also to everyone who I interviewed for this project. I appreciate your time. And thank you to my family and friends for supporting me through this project.

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