Summer Academy



Dates: June 4-9, 2017

Location: School of Media and Public Affairs, The George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Cost: $1,950 (includes lodging, meals)

Objective: Today’s college students studying the environment and sustainability face a challenge: How do we communicate the complex story of our planet? Whether you are studying journalism or science, the demands to communicate science and sustainability — and the stakes to communicate this message to the public — are greater than ever.

In this weeklong workshop, students will learn techniques to tell effective and compelling sustainability stories, gain confidence in explaining complex topics and data, and engage with leading scientists and journalists in this space.

Learning Outcomes:

During this workshop students will:

  • Learn about the importance of framing, and the challenges of complexity

  • Examine the need for compelling science and sustainability communication

  • Gain confidence in data journalism and examine visualization methods

  • Explore cutting edge new media with award-winning journalists

  • Collaborate & network with subject matter experts, and students from across the country

  • Draft and perfect a pitch for a media outlet of your choice

  • Visit major media outlets to see the latest in media technology

What to expect

Please note: Day-by-day activities in this program are subject to change.

DAY 1: Arrivals and Welcome

Planet Forward will host a meet-and-greet reception with student participants and review the week’s curriculum.



DAY 2: Framing, Complexity and Uncertainty

Our instructors will lead a discussion on effective framing and addressing the challenges of complexity in this type of storytelling.



DAY 3: The Planet Forward Model

We will examine the need to communicate science and sustainability compellingly and effectively, and how to do so by using Planet Forward’s storytelling tips and techniques.



DAY 4: Data Storytelling

Our instructors will review the importance of primary source material, and where to find/collect data. Then we will discuss methods of data visualization.



DAY 5: Frontiers of Sustainability Storytelling

A panel of award-winning journalists will share their views on cutting edge digital storytelling, and we’ll meet with virtual reality experts to discuss the emerging media.



DAY 6: Story Pitch Review and Send-Off

On our last day, students will share their refined story pitches developed over the course of the week, and we’ll send them off to move the planet forward.














Key People

Frank Sesno is director of the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) at The George Washington University. He is an Emmy-award winning journalist and creator of

Dan Reed is director of Planet Forward, the environmental storytelling platform based at the GW School of Media and Public Affairs. He oversees partnerships, strategy, events and outreach for Planet Forward and

Kim Ossi is Senior Managing Editor of Planet Forward, and former Senior Editor for the McClatchy-Tribune news wire. She coordinates and helps develop all content for and Planet Forward events, including the annual Summit, and coaches storytellers on their contributions to the website.

Dr. David Karpf is an Associate Professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. His work focuses on strategic communication practices of political associations in America, with a particular interest in Internet-related strategies.

Dr. Paul Hirsch is an Assistant Professor in the department of Environmental Studies at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He teaches Public Participation, Environmental Ethics, and Policy Analysis and facilitates groups and organizations working to think together about complex issues.