The CEPE Book Group: A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety


Author Sarah Jaquette Ray poses with a copy of her book, “A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety”, the focus of a recent Center for Ethics and Public Engagement book group. Photo courtesy of Gen Dread.

On Thursday, March 2, the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement (CEPE) provided a space for students Sydney Frank (‘23) and Riley Masica (‘23) to lead a discussion about “A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety” by Sarah Jaquette Ray. Students, faculty and family members were welcome to attend this event and discuss the book’s major themes.  

Both Masica and Frank agreed that this is a book that, to an extent, encompasses what Luther College aspires to embody. It is a merger between the disciplines of psychology and environmental studies, and they were glad to have had a group meeting with so many different backgrounds and perspectives. 

“I’ve been super interested in this book since I am a psychology major and environmental studies minor,” Masica said. “This book has been a very cool intersection of my interests. Seeing the way that mental health can relate so closely to climate change and seeing the ways that it especially impacts members of my generation has been really cool.”

Not only does this book find itself at an intersection between disciplines, it also brings the community together. Frank touched on how she was better able to recognize the common experiences she shared with peers after reading the book.

“‘A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety’ is the first book that I have ever encountered that directly addresses people like me and discusses some of the associated feelings that come along with studying and working in the realm of conservation,” Frank said. “While discussing this book with my peers, I learned a lot about the common experiences that we have shared but never openly discussed. Having this sense of common experience has created such a close-knit community that I would have never expected to emerge.” 

One of the attendees, Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies Jon Jensen (‘89), was thrilled to be part of this book group. He found out about the event via email and hopes that others read this book. 

I recommend this book highly to anyone who experiences anxiety about the state of the world, and wants to find ways of being effective in moving beyond the paralysis that anxiety can cause to live a more joy-filled life,” Jensen said. 

Frank is majoring in environmental studies, and climate change is at the forefront of her mind. She pointed out how she related to the book and why it was so impactful in her life. 

“I am deeply interested in the intersections of climate change, passion work, and mental health,” Frank said. “I was able to connect with this book, as it highlights the experience that I went through while studying my passion. I can pinpoint certain times throughout my educational journey at Luther where I experienced low moments while learning about the condition of the planet.”

Masica also discussed how “A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety” is not geared towards a niche group of people. Regardless of academic field of study, goals, and passions, climate change and this book are relevant to everyone.  

“The thing with this generation is that even if you are not studying environmental studies you are most likely aware of climate change,” Masica said. “Our generation is very uniquely impacted by climate change because we’ve been raised with it. So, even if it’s not your future career or your major, you still likely care about the environment. Thinking about the future of this planet can be super overwhelming, and it is useful to be able to have tools to cope with that even if you do not plan on making it a career.” 

CEPE plans to continue holding book groups like this one throughout the rest of the semester. “A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety” author Sarah Jaquette Ray will be visiting campus to speak on the book on Tuesday, April 18 in the Center for Faith and Life’s Recital Hall.