About one-fifth of Americans over the last two decades say they don’t have a firm understanding of climate change, according to Gallup.
During the fall semester, Burton St. John, a professor in Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design, worked with students in his Art of Science Communication class as one way to bridge that gap. They collaborated with Ecology and Evolutionary Biology students to produce a series of climate change-related short films, which they showcased at a festival in the BioLounge on the CU Boulder campus in mid-December.
“They had to develop a comfort and expertise, to hone what their message is, and be able to technically edit something that will stay within the 2.5-minute limit,” St. John said of the project.
The films tackled a range of issues from the relationship of climate change to wildfires and mental health to how it affects human migration and allergies. The goal, according to St. John, is to demystify the science and effects related to global warming and then communicate them in a way that is accessible for the average person.
“Being able to have a compelling image along with a crisp, clear takeaway of what that image is trying to tell you is more essential than ever,” St. John said.
The two classes used a unique approach. They took the principles of branding and messaging, concepts typically associated with selling consumer goods and services, and used those as a roadmap to produce the films.
Students developed a more holistic and practical understanding of climate change and the class’s assignments, according to St. John, is knowledge they can apply in the future to put out more accessible science information.
“It’s more difficult for a lot of people who have even a moderate amount of interest, to find useful, quick, distillable information,” St. John said.