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Eco-Education Campaign

The goal of this project is to teach the public the scientific basis behind environmental issues.  While the “green” and “eco” movements are taking hold, environmental education initiatives (in classrooms or as public awareness campaigns) often fail to reach the larger public or to stimulate real change towards sustainability.  In the classroom, traditional curriculum (textbooks, articles, lectures) often fails to reach students on a personal level. When people are bored or don’t see the relevance to their own lives, they forget the lessons before they even learn them.  In the public arena, the lack of effective promotional campaigns means that educational materials fail to reach the majority population.

The idea behind this project is to identify and create interactive, multimedia curriculum that reaches the individual on an emotional, personal level to inspire true learning. This curriculum will be a free resource available to educators and promoted to the public on SELVA International’s website.

Project Need
The public is largely unaware of the severity of environmental problems, and many educational campaigns teach us that simple acts, like donating to conservation organizations mitigate our environmental impact.  While small efforts like these do help, people are blind to the real truth- that we need to make drastic changes to our lives and our societies if we are to secure a healthy future for all people. 

This project proposes to get the environmental message out, in a non-traditional manner that is stimulating, interesting, emotionally evocative, and results driven.  It is based on the understanding that people learn in different ways.  Some people learn by reading articles and books, but the majority of people learn through other media.  This media includes advertisement, video, word of mouth, art, photography, games, and social networks.  Because we know that most of the U.S. population is online on a regular basis, we believe the Internet is a good venue from which to launch this campaign.

The objective of this project is to create a multimedia, online learning experience that will frame environmental messages in a form that everyone can understand.  Scientific evaluation will ensure that media is factual, while peer and student evaluation and testing will ensure that only effective curriculum is provided on the site.  A targeted promotional campaign will ensure that media reaches and motivates people to action. 

Project Goal
To teach students and the public the science behind environmental issues so as to motivate them to act to conserve nature.

Project Objectives

  1. Create and link to content that educators can use to add diversity, interest, emotion, and science to existing environmental education curriculum (such as the California EEI).
  2. Provide and link to resources and action items that help people change to more sustainable lifestyles and societies.
  3. Implement ongoing evaluation and testing of materials to ensure scientific validity, quality, and effective learning outcomes.
  4. Create a promotional campaign that will draw educators and the public to the site.
  5. Eventually expand beyond the internet into the public sphere (live events, etc.).

Content
We believe that well-constructed, emotionally evocative media are important tools for environmental education.  While there is a plethora of media available online that can be used to enhance lectures about environmental topics, teachers have a hard time separating the wheat from the chaff.  It can take educators weeks to search for and identify the best media.  Additionally, new materials become available all the time, so it is hard for educators to keep up.  This project will provide, in one location, the best, most current media that has already been reviewed for its scientific validity, quality, emotional response, and learning results. Teachers can be assured that content:

  1. incorporates as many modes of learning as possible (e.g., articles (scientific and popular), stories, poems, videos, photos, games, art), in order to reach a diverse population.
  2. is based in science. 
  3. fulfills an obvious educational objective (e.g., outlines the dangers of plastic pollution).
  4. causes an emotional response.
  5. engages and entertains the individual.
  6. motivates viewers to share the content with their peers.
  7. pushes the individual to action.

We will provide additional information for teachers, to facilitate its use in the classroom.  This information will be concise and easy to use.  It will include key concepts, supplementary activities, and specific actions people can take. 

Evaluation/Testing
No data currently exists to help instructors isolate videos and other media that are factual and demonstrated to improve learning in the classroom. Therefore, all content on our site will be evaluated and tested in multiple ways to ensure both the quality and effectiveness of the media in generating a learning response.  These criteria will be tested through experimental (at UCLA) and real classroom (online access to materials) settings.  Review will be conducted through scientific peer review, student review, user ratings, emotional response testing, and learning effectiveness.  This ongoing evaluation is what will make this such a valuable resource to educators.

Promotion
We understand that the key to “getting the message out” is good advertising.  We can create great content on our website, but if people don’t visit the site, our efforts will be wasted.  Moreover, if only conservationists visit our site, then we will be “preaching to the choir.” We thus plan to implement a simultaneous promotional campaign directed at both educators and the public.  We will create materials (e.g., fliers, videos, ads) to be distributed through a variety of social networks.

Implementation
Implementation of this project will require diverse collaboration.  We are searching for more collaborators (e.g., web programming, infrastructure design, graphic design, public relations, advertising, teachers, students, art, and financial support).  We are currently in the design phase of this project.  Our immediate goal is to design and then implement a small-scale working prototype that will help garner further support. 

Collaborators
Alison Lipman: Ph.D. Ecologist; President, SELVA; Lecturer, UCLA; Writer
Mer-Mer Chen: COO, SELVA; Teacher; Graphic & Web Designer;
Rudi Mattoni: Ph.D. Ecologist; Treasurer, SELVA; Editor, Lepidoptera Research Foundation
Ron Carroll: Ph.D. Ecologist; Professor, University of Georgia
Dan Blumstein: Ph.D. Ecologist; Dept. Chair & Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, UCLA
Howard Chiang: M.A. Creative Writing; Writer/Poet; Architect
Charlotte Stevenson: M.S. Marine Biology; Photographer
Noopur Goel: UCLA Student; artist/designer
Taylor Carroll: UCLA student; writer, photographer, communications, PR
Isauro Meza Rendon: UCLA student; artist
Phoebe Sackman Brown: UCLA student
Kayla Frisoli: UCLA student; statistician
Sophie Turnbull-Appell: UCLA student; environmental scientist

Contact
If you are interested in collaborating on this project, please contact Alison Lipman at alipman@selvainternational.org.

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