e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

ESF Helps Launch Planet Forward University Consortium

Focus of new initiative includes water, energy, climate change

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has joined a new initiative focused on giving a stronger voice to those working on issues such as food security, water, energy and climate change.

ESF is a founding member of the Planet Forward University Consortium, which was announced May in Washington, D.C.

Planet Forward is based at the Center for Innovative Media at the George Washington University. Planet Forward engages young people, opinion leaders, and innovators in finding solutions for the biggest challenges facing the planet. It provides a forum for experts and engaged citizens to come together to find solutions to shared challenges, specifically in the areas of energy, climate and sustainability.

The plans were announced at a breakfast hosted by George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs Director and Planet Forward Founder Frank Sesno. Other institutions that were first to join are Drake University, Middlebury College, Sewanee University of the South and the University of Arizona. Additional members will be announced in the coming weeks.

"This is an exciting time for colleges and universities around the country and around the world," said Sesno. "We are delighted to partner with these schools to combine multimedia story-telling with the active engagement of policymakers and students around sustainability, climate change, food security, and the host of issues facing our planet."

Partner institutions will send students to the April 2015 Planet Forward Summit in Washington, DC, and will provide content for a daily website. (www.planetforward.org) Partnering schools will also collaborate on internships and student engagement projects and programs for sustainability. The Planet Forward University Consortium will be a multimedia, digital storytelling collaborative.

ESF President Quentin Wheeler said participation in Planet Forward will give ESF students an opportunity to trade ideas with, and learn from, both their peers and experts in an array of environmental fields as well as share their passion for environmental issues with the world.

"As the oldest college in the nation focused exclusively on the study of the environment, this new initiative is a natural fit for ESF," Wheeler said. "We have the students, the scientists and the research programs in place. This opportunity to trade ideas and information, and give voice to our students, through the innovative use of modern media is an essential piece in the process of solving the problems we face."

Planet Forward also announced that it will continue the Feeding the Planet initiative, which has already engaged hundreds of students online and will focus its second year on climate change and food security

At the event, Kathleen Merrigan delivered remarks on sustainability programs at George Washington University. Merrigan served as the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and is now directing the sustainability program at GW.

Planet Forward also announced that former under secretary of state for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Tara Sonenshine, currently a Distinguished Fellow at the School of Media and Public Affairs, will lead the strategic planning and stakeholder relationships with institutional partners for Planet Forward.