Video by Aaron Dye
The Planet Forward Summer Seminar: Advancing multimedia storytelling in environmental sustainability
Washington, DC – Planet Forward recently concluded its first Summer Seminar held June 4 to 9, 2023, on the George Washington University campus. The seminar brought together 12 graduate and undergraduate students, and early career professionals, to learn and practice multimedia skills in science and sustainability communication.
The Summer Seminar scholars applied their skills to create people-centered multimedia stories that captured innovations and responses to environment problems and the climate crisis, and catalyzed perspectives that advance a more socially and environmentally hopeful future.
The scholars came to Washington, D.C., from nine colleges and universities and an environmental nonprofit across the U.S. They attended hands-on workshops and sustainability-focused lectures led by influential and creative environmental leaders and communicators. The Planet Forward team created experiential learning opportunities in crafting compelling narratives through text, visual and audio storytelling, and partners from Adobe Creative guided students through state-of-the-art media tools.
“I would recommend this program to people who are interested in storytelling, who are interested in the environment, who are even interested in both. You walk away with community, reflections, and your own way of knowing and doing.”
-Shondiin Mayo, 2023 Seminar Attendee
“This week, students learned how to build strong characters, communicate the obstacles in their path, and to identify each story’s worthy outcome.”
-Frank Sesno, Planet Forward Founding Director
Research Professor of Science Communication Anneliese (Lisa) Palmer, Planet Forward’s Education Lead and Senior Editor, designed and directed the Summer Seminar. Other speakers included Project Drawdown’s Matt Scott and Native News Online Editor Valerie Vande Panne. Founder and Executive Director of Planet Forward, Frank Sesno, led a workshop in the Art of the Interview. Planet Forward’s Multimedia Editor, Aaron Dye, also led a workshop on how to set up a video interview for documentary filmmaking.
“As social beings, our brains are wired for narrative and for storytelling. In the context of environmental and sustainability, the degree to which a concept or innovation fits a strong narrative can differentiate between whether we remember it, or it’s forgotten,” Palmer said.
Attendees included Rashawn Merchant of Columbia University, Teagan O’Hara of Connecticut College, Elizabeth Oliver of Eckerd College, Esperanza Ortega-Tapia of George Washington University, Darrien Benally and Shondiin Mayo of Northern Arizona University, Yukthi Sangoi of New Jersey Institute of Technology, Shannon Hughes of RMI, Eva Sideris and Owen Volk of SUNY-ESF, Amanda Budd of University of Georgia, and Shreya Agrawal of the University of Southern California.
Applications open for next year’s Summer Seminar on Feb. 1, 2024.