Western Sydney University taps into Earth IQ for new climate change campaign #EarthIQ
Millennials have never lived in a world that was not constantly getting hotter, yet factual knowledge about climate warming is low amongst young Australians. According to a study carried out by Western Sydney University, 89% had first heard about climate change prior to enrolling in university, but half of the respondents were not able to name a single event related to climate change in the previous year. Few millennials recognised that global warming was already under way, many attached negative emotions such as fear and anger with the topic yet with no sense of what to do about it.
Taking a positive step in engaging and empowering millennials and their communities for a climate change-impacted future, Western Sydney University today launches a new awareness campaign Earth IQ. Through multimedia storytelling, expert commentary and activations, Earth IQ is both a beginner’s guide to climate change, and a way of inspiring a generation to embrace more mindful and sustainable living, one carbon footprint at a time! The campaign is social-media led with Facebook as the main platform, supported by content on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and YouTube using the hashtag #EarthIQ.
As part of the campaign, Western Sydney University will host a Crowd Planting event at their Parramatta South campus on Fri 2 November, that will see millennials and their communities invited to the help create a spectacular Green Wall. Over the course of the day, as the wall grows, Earth IQ campaigners will also talk to participants about handling heat in the coming summer and how to help green their personal spaces as part of keeping cool.
Dr Sebastian Pfautsch, Researcher in Environmental Sustainability at Western Sydney University, is a co-author of the original study into millennials and their attitudes towards climate change. He says the campaign will help to engage audiences and industry more strongly to showcase ways for reaching ambitious sustainability goals.
“At Western our goal is impact: to make a real and positive difference to the world around us. Through our focus on collaborative research we already occupy a leadership position on sustainability. Our work raises awareness and provides crucial knowledge that helps transitioning to a low carbon economy. With Earth IQ, we’re now also looking to help our millennials – who make up a large portion of our students and are important for the future of our city. It will be them, making decisions in the near future that will shape our lives in a world impacted by climate change.”
Dr Holly Kaye-Smith, recent Western Sydney University PhD graduate and social change academic agrees saying it’s vital to find a new language in talking about climate change that’s one of optimism and empowerment rather than fear mongering.
“What we want to see is a new generation taking up everyday life activism” she says. “Becoming enthusiastic about tackling environmental issues and making creative changes to the way we eat, travel, keep cool, buy (and look after) things. We’re not going to consumer our way out of climate change!”
Western Sydney University and Sustainability
Western Sydney University has around 70 Researchers and 400 projects underway dedicated to a climate change-impacted future. Major initiatives range from research into future food production using high tech solutions, big data and glasshouses; to the resilience of plants under unpredictable weather which has implications both for farmers and the everyday city dweller; to the social and cultural impact of heat on children, adults and the elderly. The University’s solar power research is world leading with its own car design this year winning the American Solar Challenge. Its research on trees and the impact of rising carbon and heat is ground breaking. And its work on cooling initiatives is set to make an enormous impact on the built environment of Western Sydney in particular.
Western Sydney University is one of only ten universities in the region committed to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and one of only four universities appointed by the UN as a Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. Its stellar research work is complemented by an on-campus commitment to sustainability. Academic and professional staff are involved in finding real-time sustainability solutions in their everyday work, with more than 40 projects currently underway around sustainable design and best environmental practices and behaviour. This includes the University’s first six-star, green star facility in Parramatta South, boasting efficient cooling, rain water harvesting, and building materials made from 98% recycled materials as well as a 100kW photovoltaic array.
Western Sydney University also offers study majors and modules related to climate change, which are in high demand by students across a range of degrees ranging from Science, to Business, to Humanities, to Law. Combined with specializations in entrepreneurship, climate change studies at the University empowers students to think about and shape the world they will inherit in new ways.
Western Sydney University’s work in addressing regional issues of climate change and variability, and food and agricultural sustainability, could not be done alone. It values its partnership with major organisations including Hort Innovation, the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Donor Company, Dairy Australia, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience.
Isabel Wagner, Senior Media Officer, Western Sydney University
Jo Torn, Account Director, One Green Bean
2 October 2018
Ask the Expert: WSU Spokespeople for Sustainability
Dr Sebastian Pfautsch – Urban Heat Specialist with background in forestry, now working on innovative new ways to cool down urban landscapes during extreme heat. He is developing the ‘Cool Schools’ and ‘Cool Car Parks’ projects.
Dr Holly Kaye-Smith – Social Change Activist and Senior Video Producer at WSU working on a range of climate change initiatives as they relate to communication and advocacy.
Professor Ian Anderson – Director of WSU’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment and subject matter expert for the university’s Climate Change/ Environmental Science research areas. Also widely known as a passionate science communicator and envirosustainability researcher.
Social impact of rising heat
Dr Louise Crabtree – Social commentator about climate change, rising urban heat and and its impact on Western Sydney communities.
Dr Abby Mellick Lopes – Design specialist working on ideas for more liveable cities in a climate-changed future.
Professor Priti Krishna – Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and researcher working with WSU’s protected cropping program, with a particularly interest in tech innovation.
Professor David Tissue – An international expert on the effects of climate change on ecosystems and lead scientist for WSU’s protected cropping and glasshouse programs.
Professor Sally Power and Dr Amy Churchill – Champions for sustainable agriculture, and lead scientists exploring resilient pastures for drought-stricken farmers.
Professor James Cook – Bee specialist, leading the research into native stingless bees and other pollinators.
Young researchers Dr Amy-Marie Gilpin, Dr Laura Brettell, Dr Simon Tierney and Dr Mark Hall, are all working to uncover the work of bees, insects and other bugs that support much of our plant life.
Two research projects from Western Sydney University have been highlighted in the New South Wales Research Engagement and Impact Showcase publication, launched at NSW Parliament House.
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