Moving forward in 2018, we at Inside the Greenhouse continue our work to meet people where they are and ‘re-tell climate change stories’ from a range of perspectives. Through this commitment we seek to help make sense of 21st century climate challenges. As a key part of our ongoing efforts, we remain steadfast in our commitment to help students build confidence and competence in order to deepen our understanding of how to effectively address issues associated with climate change.
Below you’ll find some updates regarding our ongoing research, teaching and engagement over these first months of the year. Visit our website for further details as well.
We continue to carry out these projects through wonderful collaborations and partnerships linking campus and community as well as the local with the global. Your support is vital to our ongoing efforts. Please visit the Inside the Greenhouse Gift Fund to provide a tax-deductible gift. We are grateful for contributions in any amount.
Up with hope,
Beth Osnes, Rebecca Safran and Max Boykoff
(Inside the Greenhouse co-directors)
This Spring 2018 semester at CU Boulder, Beth Osnes taught the second course in our two course Inside the Greenhouse series. The interdisciplinary course is called ‘Creative Climate Communications’ and is cross-listed between the Environmental Studies program, the Department of Theatre and Dance, and the CU Boulder Atlas Institute. Patrick Chandler helped as our Teaching Assistant while Barbara McFerrin (alum from the 2014-2015 Inside the Greenhouse course series) worked as our More Than Scientists composition coordinator.
This year Beth cast the net wide to imagine creative engagement strategies for interactive climate communication. Students did a class activity creating an artistic installation in a hallway of ATLAS, taking turns outlining each other’s bodies, and then adding on features to connect themselves with the natural world.
This participatory activity was designed to demonstrate how they conceptualize themselves as part of the natural environment for which they advocate.
During the semester, student formed groups to complete several distinct compositions. The first was to create video interviews with local climate scientists for our partner, More Than Scientists, to feel the human side of these scientists in hopes viewers would be more likely to accept their findings if they could relate to them personally. As part of this process, some students rose at the break of day to capture footage of Dr. Pete Newton running in the mountains. They sat at the fireside with Dr. Kevin Krizek to hear about the lessons he learned from his parents about sustainability and how he works to pass that down those same values to his son.
The objective for the final composition was to create a participatory activity and a skit for youth visiting Rocky Mountain National Park that communicates some aspect of climate change and involve some aspect of fun/comedy. To focus these efforts on effective solutions to climate change, we drew from the list of most impactful solutions identified by the book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever to Reverse Global Warming. Pictured here are students enacting a skit about eating a plant-rich diet. Select projects will be put into action for Discovery Day at Rocky Mountain National Park encourage this summer to invigorate and maximize commitment to environmental stewardship among visitors to National Parks through Drawdown Act Up activities.
We are in our second year of a partnership with Boulder-based Recycled Runway. Recycled Runway is a program that works with young designers to build their competence and confidence in design and sustainability. On April 10th, Recycled Runway held their 9th annual fashion showcase at the sold-out Boulder Theater.
In the partnership this year, ITG alumna Barbara MacFerrin worked to produce three videos: two promotional videos (see promo one & promo two) and one showcase piece that aired at the start of the event, to help open the show. Together, these videos have helped tell stories of how young Recycled Runway designers worked with recycled materials to create sustainable fashion sewn in with creative expression.
At the wildly successful April event at, the designers presented their original garments that were comprised of found and recycled materials. The event at the Boulder Theatre brought out the community in full force to celebrate this innovate approach towards sustainable living.
We thank the Recycled Runway team including Rachel Lubanowski, Tanja Leonard, Libby Alexander, Ricki Booker, Abby Church, and Leslie Dietrich. We look forward to the ongoing collaboration as we approach Recycled Runway 10 next year.
Each newsletter we feature students involved in our ongoing Inside the Greenhouse efforts. This issue, we feature two current graduate students:
- Patrick Chandler (Environmental Studies Master’s student) has lived and worked across the United States over the past decade developing environmental education, stewardship and science programs; his current focus is learning how the arts and emotional engagement can be used to raise awareness of environmental issues and promote responsible consumerism.
- Sarah Fahmy (Theater and Performance Studies Master’s student) is a native of Alexandria, Egypt, and she is interested in post-colonial Egyptian theatre and Arab women's voices, especially their involvement with international sustainability efforts; her research focuses on utilizing applied theatre to facilitate young women's vocal empowerment and encourage their active participation in sustainable development within their communities.
They offer some comments and reflections on their experiences to date Inside the Greenhouse at CU Boulder, in their own words:
Throughout my life, my work and broader life commitments have been guided by my connection to the natural world. Learning how to share my love of the natural world with others and facilitate understanding of the issues that threaten it has been my greatest challenge. I have worked for the past ten years as a science educator teaching youth and adults using a combination of art and science to enhance cognitive and affective approaches to science learning. I have found art and science, two very powerful human tools to investigate and communicate about the natural world, to be uniquely effective and impactful when combined in creating meaningful and impactful learning experiences. In my research at CU, I plan to ask the following questions in order to create a facilitator’s guide for communities, schools and organization interested in art/science collaborative education projects:
- What are effective arts-based methods for facilitating environmental educational experiences that connect cognitive, affective, and psychomotor realms of engagement?
- What are indicators for determining which arts-based methods are effective?
- What are appropriate monitoring and evaluation tools for measuring those indicators?
Working with Inside the Greenhouse and associated projects provides numerous opportunities to address these topics. I’m excited to be part of such a great team!
I am happy to be working with Inside the Greenhouse here at CU Boulder.
As part of this work, this summer I will facilitate the 12-session Young Women’s Vocal Empowerment Program (SPEAK) in Alexandria and Aswan, Egypt between June - July 2018. The SPEAK program utilizes applied theatre as a tool for young women to strengthen their voices and expand their expressive range through the combination of vocal and physical activities, and critical reflection. These activities allow young women to reflect upon and speak up for their social equality within their communities and encourage them to trust that their voices can be used as active agents of social change. The program focuses on issues of environmentalism by encouraging the participants to discuss their relationship to the current climate story in their communities, envision the future, and work towards our collective transition to a more sustainable future. Young women are supported in identifying strategies to tackle climate change and encourage sustainable development in Egypt.
Third Annual International Comedy & Climate Change Video Competition
This Spring we put out our third annual call for comedy and climate change video entries and we received submissions from North America, Europe and Africa. This ongoing competition is motivated by the notion that humor is a tool underutilized in creative climate communications, yet comedy has power to effectively connect with people on climate change issues. Therefore, we’ve held this competition to encourage folks to harness the powers of climate comedy through compelling, resonant and meaningful videos.
An esteemed judges panel including scholars, practitioners, staff and students at CU Boulder determined the winners, based on these criteria: Does it make us laugh? Does it prompt us to consider climate change in new ways? Does it make progress in meeting people where they are, opening audience(s) to new and creative climate engagements?
From this selection process, three submissions rose to the top. Here are the 2018 winners:
Peer Review (United Kingdom)
by Madeleine Finlay and Sarah Barfield Marks
Recipe for Disaster (Ireland)
by Emmet Sheerin
S**t Environmentalists Say (United States)
by Matthew Cohen
Check out our new course in Spring 2019: ‘Branding Climate Change’
Coming up in Spring 2019, Inside the Greenhouse co-founder and co-director Rebecca Safran will be co-teaching a new course with Erin Schauster (Assistant Professor, Advertising, Public Relations, Media Design). The course will be called ‘Branding Climate Change’.
Students of advertising and public relations require the most concise visual storytelling toolkits in order to promote brands, and communicate the environmental, philanthropic and socially responsible practices that contribute to their clients’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. CSR involves the communication efforts to inform stakeholders, including audiences (advertising) and publics (public relations), of a brand’s commitment to improve societal and environmental well-being. However, strategic communication practitioners, including students, lack experience with science communication. Similarly, scientists working on the multi-dimensional problem of climate change, who require facts to anchor policy and conservation initiatives, often lack the communication skills required to relate to the public.
Therein lies a huge gap: the issues of climate change science are more pressing than ever yet reaching the public has largely failed. How do we turn abstract, scientific facts into compelling visual stories that reach people across all political and socio-economic walks of life?
Rebecca and Erin will address this hugely pressing and timely question through this cross-disciplinary course focused on creating branded content for the planet. It also marks a budding Inside the Greenhouse partnership with colleagues in the Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design group at CU Boulder. Funding for this course comes from the CU Nature, Environment, Science and Technology (NEST) Studio for the Arts program.
Ongoing information-sharing, talks and workshops
This spring, Inside the Greenhouse participants have led information-sharing and participatory workshops as well as giving talks involving creative climate communications. Among them, Inside the Greenhouse students Nora Lazerus and Gabbie Stark presented short videos from the More Than Scientists project featuring CU scientists and discussed their creative process and the impacts their videos will have on the climate action discussion at the CU Sustainability Summit in April.
Also, co-director Max Boykoff spoke about Inside the Greenhouse at Colorado School of Mines in their Hennebach Lecture Series in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Division. Max also spoke about Inside the Greenhouse at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society ‘Climate Science and Democracy’ event at the University of Chicago.
In addition, co-Directors Max Boykoff and Beth Osnes participated in a workshop called ‘Individual, Innovative & Impactful: Communicating Science for our Second Century’ with the National Parks Service Climate Change Response Program in Ft. Collins, Colorado.