Story telling and social action: engaging young people to act on climate change

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 2:52 PM
Eugene Cordero, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, United States
The realization that well designed graphs and clearly worded summaries were not enough to spur the public and policy makers towards an appropriate understanding of our planet encouraged me to search for other ways to share climate stories with the general public. After co-authoring a popular book on food and climate change and giving many talks to the general public, it struck me that young people were largely missing from the dialogue, and little meaningful progress was being made to design effective solutions. I then started working with faculty and students from the Film and Animation Departments at San Jose State University to develop stories about climate change that would be engaging to younger audiences. The result was the Green Ninja Project, based around the Green Ninja, a superhero who focuses on solutions to climate change using humor and silliness to soften what can be a somewhat challenging topic. The Project includes a) The Green Ninja Show – a series of YouTube videos (over 1,000,000 views) highlighting actions young people can take to reduce climate change, b) The Green Ninja Film Festival where students tell their own climate solutions stories, and c) a collection of educational resources that help teachers bring climate science topics into their classroom using hands-on activities. A key component to this work is promoting social action experiences, so that young people can understand how their actions can make a difference. Based on these experiences, I will provide my own reflections on the challenges and opportunities of communicating climate change with young people.