by Shana Nelson

While #schoolstrikes4climatechange is a new movement that students across the globe are getting involved in, some WVU students are lending a helping hand to educate the world about climate change in their own way.

Credit: Project Drawdown

This semester, Dr. Jasper Fessman’s strategic communications capstone class has teamed up with Project Drawdown, a nonprofit organization which consists of a coalition of researchers, scientists, doctors, and many more, that has developed 100 sustainable solutions to climate change.

Founded in 2014 by environmentalist and author Paul Hawken, Project Drawdown was created to, “map, measure, and model the most substantive solutions to stop global warming, and to communicate those findings to the world.”

Edited by Hawken and released in 2017 Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, lays out the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming.

Paul Hawken, Drawdown. Credit: Raymond Baltar

The list of all 100 solutions can be found here, and they range from topics such as a plant-rich diet, educating girls, and LED household lighting,  just to name a few.

In terms of just how this organization and WVU started working together, Dr. Fessmann said that he wanted to use his scholarship and activism in order to help students make a difference.

“I am an activist scholar. I am a scholar first, but I really like to use my scholarship and my research to have an impact. Teaching a capstone class really allows me to also help the students and learn a lot for a real client, and at the same time make an impact.”

Credit: University of Central Florida

At the beginning of the semester, groups of students were told to come up with a campaign idea for Project Drawdown, and of those groups one was chosen to work on a social media campaigns, and another was chosen to focus on the organization’s solution of a plant-rich diet,  creating advocacy toolkits for the organization to generate awareness to their solutions.

Dr. Fessmann himself is also doing work to help on the environmental front with the recent release of a book he edited, Strategic Climate Change Communications: Effective Approaches to Fighting Climate Denial. The book, according to Dr. Fessmann, is meant to help journalists understand strategic communications campaigns that are used against them by climate denial, which is an industry with a budget of about $900 billion a year according to this research.

“There’s a very, very strong difference in the playing field. You have all of the money and expertise on one side, and this book and others try to level the strategic communications playing field to really give journalists and activists a toolkit of what techniques are used against them, and how they can counter them.”

In terms of doing their part to reverse global warming, students of today seem to have their sights set on ditching corporate jobs and doing more public interests communications and advocacy work, Dr. Fessmann said.

“A lot of the students want to do more than a traditional corporate job, and this generation is a lot more socially active. They understand how much impact they can have, especially through social media, that they can spark social movement. That makes it a lot more meaningful.”

While WVU students are working directly with the organization, other schools did their part by joining in on the EcoChallenge on social media.

Whether it’s working hands on with organizations such as these or joining movements online, there are many ways that students both locally and globally are working to reverse climate change, and thanks to organizations like Project Drawdown, we are all able to have access to solutions to help ourselves and the planet.

4 thoughts on “WVU Strategic Communications Students Do Their Part for Climate Change

  1. Had no idea there was a class doing something like this at WVU. Great opportunity for students to not only get some real-world experience but also to participate in something good. There’s also going to be a whole class just about climate change next semester (http://www.thedaonline.com/arts_and_entertainment/new-climate-change-class-will-focus-on-working-together-to/article_63c11ec2-5014-11e9-ada5-772c84ffb576.html). I think this is exactly the kind of students should be learning in college, how to critically think, and come together to solve the big problems.

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  2. Great story! I was unaware WVU was offering a Strategic Comms class that focuses on climate change and how to combat climate denial. In my opinion, how to strategize messages and marketing towards people regarding the impact of climate change is very important. Awesome job finding a story that relates to your blog topic and is reverent to WVU students.

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  3. I think this class is a great idea! Climate change, somehow, is still viewed by some to be a false claim. To others, this seems very strange. WVU having a class that focuses specifically on climate change and how to speak about it is very important.

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