Student-Produced Coastal Optimism Rally Speeches: Going Beyond the Doom and Gloom for Stories of Resilience and Hope

Laura A Guertin1, James Berkey2 and Anne Jansen2, (1)Penn State Brandywine, Earth Science, Media, PA, United States, (2)Penn State Brandywine, Media, PA, United States
Introductory-level Earth science courses at universities are filled with topics that call attention to environmental damage and destruction, whether it be natural or caused by humans (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.). One introductory-level oceanography course for non-science majors focused the course on having students learn and communicate examples of adaptation and resilience in the coastal zone. Students were challenged to write and record a rally speech around a coastal topic of their choosing, targeting their speech writing and delivery for an audience of their peers. Students were assisted with their research for reliable sources from sessions with a faculty librarian and an online library resource guide. Next, students attended individual and group peer-review sessions with the campus writing center to first learn how to format their story in the framework of the COMPASS Message Box and then write the speech. Finally, technical training was provided to assist students with their recordings. During the semester-long project, students reported challenges of selecting a topic and finding an optimistic spin for the story they were trying to tell. The students also expressed a lack of experience listening to a rally speech, and needed several examples provided and reviewed as a class. At the conclusion of the semester, students reported a sense of pride and accomplishment in completing their coastal optimism rally speeches, with many students expressing a desire to share their audio files beyond their instructor and fellow students enrolled in the course.