Green Cities

The Learning Climate: Global Scholars Come to Earth Day Network

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to a group of students from the Global Scholar Program, a program where high school students from across the U.S. come to Washington, D.C. to learn about social action, government, and policy. There was an entire day dedicated to climate change, coordinated by The Stanley Foundation. Leaders from US Climate Action Network, Climate Reality Project, and NRDC all presented to the students and discussed different aspects of climate change—from the implications of COP 21 to how climate change helped instigate Syrian unrest. In my presentation, I talked a lot about climate communication. Earth Day Network’s mission is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement, which means that communicating effectively to new constituents is our “bread and butter.” We do this through education campaigns, partnering up with unexpected organizations, and facilitating dialogues across geographical and cultural boundaries. This April, Earth Day Network announced a very cool, (maybe) unexpected partnership with Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds. We are working to put together a climate change game in September that will activate people all over the world on climate issues. What better way to get students attention? If they weren’t listening to me at the beginning of my speech, they were probably playing Angry Birds under the desk (Hey science teachers—that Angry Birds game may not be all bad come September! Your kids will be learning, even if they are distracted). But once they heard Angry Birds, their eyes lit up. They were intrigued by the concept that we could harness the games they played mindlessly on their phones to teach them about something vitally important to our future. Using the game as a platform, I facilitated a discussion about how they communicated climate change, took action in their school, became aware of changes in environmental policy, and more. These students were bursting with ideas for the game, and we related their ideas back to what they could do in their own lives. The Global Scholars had so many questions and were so excited to participate in the international process to act on climate. I am looking forward to seeing what these vivacious students accomplish. Johanna Bozuwa, Director of Education