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.
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.
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.”
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.