INSIDE THE GREENHOUSE | Re-telling climate change stories

Issue #11

We hope you’ve had a great summer. We’re excited to continue our programming into Fall after productive summer. We continue to engage in research and activities in in order to advance wider interdisciplinary academic communities to build capacity, competence and confidence in CU Boulder undergraduate and graduate student communicators with whom we primarily work. As we continue with these commitments to foster a deliberative space to co-create and analyze creative climate communications, we thank you for your ongoing support.

Please continue your support by visiting the Inside the Greenhouse Gift Fund to provide a tax-deductible gift. We are grateful for contributions in any amount.

Warm regards,
Rebecca Safran, Beth Osnes and Max Boykoff
(Inside the Greenhouse co-directors)

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Max Boykoff, Beth Osnes and Rebecca Safran recently published research in a Spanish-language volume on 'Audiovisual Communication of Science', edited by Guillermo Orozco, Miquel Francés and Bienvenido León. ('Comunicación Audiovisual de la Ciencia'). The chapter is titled ‘Telling Stories about the Science of Climate Change: Inside the Greenhouse’ (‘Contando historias sobre la ciencia del cambio climático: Dentro del Invernadero’). The chapter features research into the efficacy of work that Inside the Greenhouse has done with the More than Scientists project over the past three years.

The main sections of this book are:

  • genres and media formats in scientific communication
  • narrative strategies in audiovisual realization and production of scientific content
  • scientific communication in the digital multicast video online
  • quality and scientific rigor in the audiovisual dissemination of science

This research output emanates from collaborations that Max Boykoff has been involved in with TVMorfosis. The group met in June 2017 in Valencia, Spain as part of ongoing work on science communication for Spanish-language audiences in Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay. 


The Art of Science Communication

Coming up in Spring 2019, Rebecca Safran (Associate Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) and Erin Schauster (Assistant Professor, Advertising, Public Relations, Media Design) will co-teach a new course during the Spring 2019 term titled ‘The Art of Science Communication’.

This cross-disciplinary course is an evolved version of the Film and Climate Change class (taught each Fall by Rebecca Safran for the past nine years). This new course will integrate the science of climate change and science communication with the science of advertising, public relations, and media design. This class will be designed for early undergraduate students, with an enrollment cap of 40 students.

The basic premise is this: Students of advertising require the most concise visual storytelling toolkits in order to sell brands and products. Scientists working on the multi-dimensional problem of climate change require facts to anchor policy and conservation initiatives but 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? The course will address this hugely pressing and timely question through a cross-disciplinary engagement focused on creating ads for the planet.


Paul May

Paul is passionate about the outdoors and climate change. He is dedicated towards finding sustainable solutions and engaging with people to join the green revolution.  Paul recently graduated from CU Boulder with a BA in Environmental Studies and a Geology minor, after taking Beth Osnes’ ‘Creative Climate Communication’ course in Spring 2018.

Just a few weeks into the 2018 spring semester of the course, Paul May stayed after class to tell professor Beth Osnes and teaching assistant Patrick Chandler about a dream project and to ask if Inside the Greenhouse might want to be a part of it. He told them about Kombi Electrica, a project started by three best friends from Chile but based out of Boulder, CO. The plan was going to be to build an electric VW Bus and use it to educate about our planet and teach sustainable practices in Latin America.

They dreamed about the trip of a lifetime; driving the Pacific Coast, looking for good surf while connecting with local communities. But they had an environmental dilemma due to the carbon footprint associated to a conventional combustion engine powered vehicle. In search of a sustainable solution, the idea behind Kombi Electrica was born: restore an old VW Bus, convert to 100% electric and make it livable for three people. Then embark on the trip of their dreams, while educating about climate change and sustainable practices.

Inside the Greenhouse has agreed to work with Kombi Electrica to develop climate curriculum to engage students along the trip. You can stay tuned as they share their story with the world by visiting


Summer 2018

Professor Osnes,

I just wanted to thank you for a great semester. I really enjoyed your class, as it got me outside my comfort zone and focusing on media and communication. Most of my environmental studies major has been devoid of classes like this so it was a great experience. Getting to use some of the video skills I already had, and developing new skills in multimedia presentation will be something I will be able to carry with me into the future.

Thanks again, Eric Yoon

Senior Environmental Studies student Eric Yoon (far right) from the Spring 2018 ‘creative climate communications’ course, performing Drawdown Act Up composition with fellow students for their final project on the environmental benefits of a plant-rich diet.



Drawdown Act Up

Set against a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Inside the Greenhouse premiered its latest performance-based project that features Grandmother Refrigerator, singing wind turbines, and a very hungry caterpillar. Drawdown Act Up leads participants in embodied youth engagement in climate solutions. Participatory activities and games physicalize the science behind a Drawdown climate solution, and the accompanying funny skit contextualizes the solution and cleverly demonstrates how to activate that solution locally in daily life.

This July, families visiting the Discovery Center of Rocky Mountain National Park joined in the activities and enjoyed the brief performances that dramatized the importance of properly recycling of aged refrigerators, the beauty of wind turbines, and how to reduce food waste. Many were surprised to learn that these skits were each based on the three top solutions for drawing down carbon to reverse global warming.

To maximize impact, Inside the Greenhouse focused artistic expression on the most impactful solutions identified by Drawdown’s team of researchers who generated a list of top solutions for reversing global warming.

Piloting this project in a US National Park was a continuation of Inside the Greenhouse association with the National Park Service Climate Response Team. This project was designed to encourage, invigorate and maximize commitment to environmental stewardship among visitors to US National Parks through Drawdown Act Up activities.

This October, ITG co-founder, Beth Osnes, will be sharing this work at the Drawdown conference, “Drawdown Learn: Teaching a Solutions-Based Approach to Climate Change,” at the Omega Institute in New York. Students in the Spring 2018 Creative Climate Communication course developed compositions to help cultivate material for this project. In the coming year ITG will continue to research how engagement in this project can contribute to student learning and effectively communicate climate solutions.

See Sierra Magazine story on Drawdown that includes Drawdown, Act Up.

Pics from the Inside the Greenhouse performances.

The Inside the Greenhouse performance team after the show at Patrick Chandler’s home in Lyons, Colorado.


Green Suits Your City continues with Students Photographing Sustainability in Boulder Valley School District

Select BVSD secondary schools will have a unique opportunity to partner with Inside the Greenhouse (CU), EcoArts Connections, and the UCAR Center for Science Education to wear, experience and photograph sustainability in action wearing “green suits” (provided).  Pictures will highlight one or more of the following themes and action areas in our schools and school communities (topic examples in parentheses). For each of the following themes, we are especially interested in how they affect human beings socially and culturally.

Themes: Food (production, waste, nutrition, choice, health); Energy (renewable, fossil fuel, energy conservation); Waste (compost, recycling of paper and commingled containers-glass, aluminum and plastics); Transportation (bus, walking, bicycling, skateboarding, carpooling, electric vehicles); and Nature/Environment (outdoor learning, connection to nature, gardens, climate change)

Participating students will set, create, and photograph scenes of sustainability in action including one or more students dressed in a green suit. Students can work in teams or individually. Each school will select up to 20 of its students’ best photographs and submit them to an outside jury of arts, science, and sustainability professionals. The jury will select the photos to be exhibited from all of the submissions. The photographs selected by the jury will be exhibited at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the spring of 2019 and possibly at other venues.

Inside the Greenhouse alumna Carrie Hoarty in Omaha, Nebraska.

Side by Side’: September 15, 2018

The Safran lab group had a very busy summer doing field research with an awesome group of undergraduate students on local populations of barn swallows along the Front Range in Colorado. Much of summer 2018 was spent starting new research projects and compiling data from their work near and far and working through our massive genomics data sets from previous research expeditions. 

Left photo: Molly McDermott and Javan Carter working in the field, summer 2018. Right photo: Five summer field assistants who worked with Professor Rebecca Safran (not pictured) in Summer 2018.

Professor Rebecca Safran (second from left) with Ayla Flaxman (left), Javan Carter (second from right) and Molly McDermott (right) working in the field, Summer 2018.

Moving into the summer, the Safran Lab is teaming up with Inside the Greenhouse and Nature, Environment, Science and Technology (NEST) studio for the arts for a September 15 event called ‘Side by Side’. Side by Side is a community event hosted by Molly McDermott [PhD student, EBIO], Becca Safran [Associate Professor, EBIO, ITG], and Aaron Treher [MFA, Lecturer, Department of Art and Art History, University of Colorado Boulder]

The event grew from an interdisciplinary collaboration between artists and biologists at the University of Colorado Boulder who were interested in celebrating shared space with wildlife, focused on barn swallows. Barn swallows (hirundo rustica) are a declining songbird species that nest exclusively in human-made spaces.

The Observation Station, Hygiene, Co, 2018, photo credit: Aaron Treher, MFA.

When and Where: 15 September, 2018. Cargill Ranch and Silk Road Studios, 11768 North 59th Street. Hygiene Colorado 80503

Presentations: 1:00 pm-2:30 pm | presentations by Artists and Scientists collaborating for conservation research on barn swallows, Colorado and worldwide and by Inside the Greenhouse.

Open house: 2:30 pm- 5:00 pm | our open house includes a performance at the observation station, a site-specific art work, barn swallow nesting sites around the Cargill ranch, refreshments, and activities for kids.

Contact information: |

Ongoing information-sharing, talks and workshops

This summer, Inside the Greenhouse participants have led information-sharing and participatory workshops as well as giving talks involving creative climate communications. Among them, co-director and co-founder Max Boykoff spoke about Inside the Greenhouse at the July webinar celebrating the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program’s 10th Anniversary. Co-director and co-founder Rebecca Safran traveled to Vancouver, Canada as a plenary speaker for the International Ornithological Congress. She spoke about her work on the evolution of biodiversity, and spotlighted creative climate communication through her work with Inside the Greenhouse.

Going forward, follow us via Twitter (@ITG_Boulder), Instagram (‘everydayclimate’) and Facebook. More information can be found on our webpages.