September 2019 – June 2020 Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor in the Environment and the Humanities and Visiting Lecturer in English and the Princeton Environmental Institute
Meera Subramanian is an award-winning environmental journalist whose work focuses on the intersection of culture and environment, particularly what motivates people’s relationships with and attitudes toward the environment. Her acclaimed 2015 book, “A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka,” explored the stories of Indians from multiple strata of society as they overcame the country’s various environmental crises, including extinction, pollution, and food and water shortages.
Subramanian has published her work in national and international outlets, including The New York Times, The NewYorker.com, The Wall Street Journal, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Orion, where she is a contributing editor. Her writing also has been anthologized in Best American Science and Nature Writing and multiple editions of Best Women’s Travel Writing.
In 2017-18, she spent 18 months reporting from across the United States for the nine-part series “Finding Middle Ground” published by InsideClimate News. The series explored how different Americans are personally experiencing climate change. During her time at Princeton, Subramanian published a retrospective on the series in Orion titled, “United in Change.”
Subramanian is the current board president and a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. She was a Knight Science Journalism fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2016-17) and a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research fellow in India (2013-14). She earned her graduate degree in journalism from New York University.
While at Princeton
Subramanian taught the Fall 2019 undergraduate course “Crossing the Climate Change Divide,” which stemmed directly from her “Finding Middle Ground” series. Students in the seminar explored how Americans’ perception of climate change is shaped by political, economic and religious beliefs that are independent of scientific consensus or sensible environmental policy.
In Spring 2020, Subramanian taught the course, “Climate Change as Threat (and Opportunity) Multiplier,” which explored how climate change is exacerbating existing struggles in nature, agriculture, national security and social justice, and how climate solutions might help ease them.
Subramanian mentored aspiring journalists in both courses, including Jimin Kang, Class of 2021, whose final paper for the fall course about how New Jersey farmers are experiencing climate unpredictability was published.
Subramanian spoke at numerous events and meetings across campus about her work and how to compellingly — and convincingly — capture the urgency of climate change and environmental crises. During the Oct. 24-25 Princeton Environmental Forum organized by PEI — which drew nearly 700 people to campus — Subramanian spoke on the expert panel, “Breaking the Logjam: The Way Forward,” about the need to combine science and storytelling.
She also was a panelist for the student-organized April 24 discussion, “Climate Change and Coronavirus,” during which she talked about the role the media plays in how we view the existential threats of climate change and COVID-19. As part of the Environmental Humanities and Social Transformation Colloquium sponsored by PEI, Subramanian talked about the importance of sharing and appreciating individual stories and perspectives on an increasingly crowded and imperiled planet.
Subramanian is scheduled to deliver the PEI Faculty Seminar, “Eco-Swarāj: Can India Achieve Environmental Self-Rule?” Sept. 15, 2020.