New forms of science communication are constantly emerging. While books, journals, and newspapers still contribute to furthering science literacy, members of younger generations are now turning to online sources to educate themselves on the latest scientific developments. One of the more popular online sources are podcasts: a hands-free way of absorbing concise information in the car, at the gym or walking to class. For college students, this form of media is especially appealing due to the lack of reading required — a refreshing break from the often cumbersome amount of pages assigned to students on a weekly basis.
This semester, the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions has joined the podcast trend with the release of its new student-run podcast, Down to Earth: Cornell Conversations About… The podcast is meant to serve as an open discussion about climate change led by students who are both interested in and knowledgeable about various relevant topics such as sustainable development, climate justice issues and biodiversity threats.
The idea is to “bring the conversation back to climate,” said Danielle Eiseman, the podcast’s faculty supervisor, in its premiere episode. Eiseman also serves as program director of CICSS.
The podcast first began development last November after Eiseman pitched the idea to Engaged Cornell. After receiving funding and holding tryouts for members of the student community at the end of last semester, five undergraduate students of various years, majors, backgrounds and interests were selected to participate.
“All of us have our own specializations,” said Jake Brenner ’20. “We all bring different things to the table.”
While the podcast is centered around issues relating to climate change and thus is mainly science-based, it is not meant to be exclusively for STEM students. According to Julia Kapuvari ’19, an environmental and sustainability science major involved with the podcast, the episodes are meant to be “more digestible for a non-STEM audience.”
The goal is also to hopefully expand beyond just the Cornell community.
“Ideally, we want to reach a broader audience,” said Brenner. “We’re planning to make it accessible to everyone who has an interest in climate change.”
This goes along with a recent trend in the climate change mitigation movement: increasing climate “literacy.” This idea involves increasing the comprehension and knowledge of climate science to eventually bring about more awareness and concern for the future consequences of anthropogenic climate change. One way to approach this is to stress how, in one way or another, it interacts with every aspect of society.
“Climate change is so interdisciplinary,” said Kapuvari. “It’s a humanist issue.”
Currently, six episodes are available on Spotify. The first, titled “Community Energy,” was recorded this summer by Eiseman and Brenner with special guest Terry Carroll, a Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County Energy Educator. The episode delves into the challenges of switching to sources of sustainable energy and engaging in sustainable farming practices in small communities where climate literacy is not widespread. The second episode, “Ecological Footprints,” which was released on Sept. 19 is slightly more interactive and encourages listeners to accompany the student hosts as they calculate their individual contributions to global carbon emissions.
“We definitely want to encourage listeners to interact with us,” said Brenner.
To listen to the podcast, search “Down to Earth” on Spotify or click here. It is also available to listen to for free on the CICSS website. New episodes will be released every Wednesday.