Jamie Henn is one of the founders and the communications director of 350.org, arguably the most successful environmental communications campaign of our times. 350.org was started by Jamie and classmates at Middlebury College along with writer Bill McKibben. So Jamie’s visit to my class “Environmental Communications in the Anthropocene” gave students a view of what they might do, with some dedicated friends, some astute use of social media, storytelling, PR, and theatrics — plus a compelling global cause, and thousands of passionate allies worldwide. To prepare for the class discussion, Jamie asked the students to check out the 350.org web site and Facebook page to get a sense of their approach, the language they use, and the content they share. He also recommended two articles about 350.org, one in the Huffington Post and the other in Outside magazine. And finally, he recommended a slideshow in Upworthy as “the best presentation on what makes for good social media content that I’ve seen in a while.”
Tim De Chant’s visit to my class “Environmental Communications in the Anthropocene” was an inspiration to students who, like Tim, have come of age in a new media landscape. Tim has made his own way in this new landscape after earning a PhD in Environmental Science, Management and Policy at UC Berkeley by starting his own groundbreaking blog Per Square Mile, learning the ropes of web production, content management, editing and publishing while working at the Kellogg School of Management, and then landing a position as the senior digital editor at the leading science program on television NOVA on PBS, where he was preparing to launch “NOVA Next,” even as he spoke to our class.
When Andy Revkin visited my class “Environmental Communications in the Anthropocene,” it was like a live window into the ongoing seminar that he conducts at the Dot Earth blog at The New York Times. He was responding live to critics — including Mark Ruffalo, aka the “Hulk,” pulling live links and examples from his own blog and other sources from around the web, and sharing stories about work in progress, including conversations and debates with readers around the world. To prepare for the class discussion, we read Andy’s recent posts and comments on Dot Earth, as well as an older post on Andy’s vision of and quest to be part of the expanding worldwide “knowosphere.”
Peter Kareiva, chief scientist and director of science at The Nature Conservancy, visited my class “Environmental Communications in the Anthropocene” to talk about the crucial intersections of conservation and communications, science and storytelling. Widely and often publishing in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, Peter is also a lively and outspoken contributor to contemporary public debates about the future of conservation, ecology, development, and humanity. To prepare for the class discussion, we read Peter’s essay “Conservation in the Anthropocene: Beyond Solitude and Fragility” in Breakthrough Journal. For his full bio and publications, see The Nature Conservancy.
Alexis Madrigal and Sarah Rich visited my class “Environmental Communications in the Anthropocene” to share their experiences successfully riding new waves of media in recent years. Both consider themselves of the same generation as students today, who grew up swimming in an ocean of new media and with concern for nature and the environment a given in their lives. But how best to catch that next wave and communicate those vital stories in today’s rapidly changing media environment? That is the question. To prepare for the class discussion, we read Sarah’s story “Citrus by Design” on the Smithsonian’s website, and Alexis’s story “When Newspapers Were New, or, How Londoners Got Word of the Plague” on The Atlantic website, as well as his piece there on “The Whitewashing of the American Farmer: Dodge Ram Super Bowl Ad Edition.”