Why are we running this project?
Science communications have long aimed to make science accessible to the wider public instead of primarily addressing an academic audience, but so far with little success. However, this task is becoming more vital than ever before: As a society, we can only master ecological challenges such as climate change if we agree on counteraction based on scientific facts. Considering the success of populist movements and the competition from “alternative” media and experts, the scientific community is particularly called upon to provide orientation in an increasingly complex world. In doing so, new formats and channels must be found to convey information to people who otherwise have little to do with science.
What are our goals?
The YouTube campaign dedicated to Earth Overshoot Day aims to raise the interest of young people who have little exposure to science in pressing ecological issues and their scientific background. But the videos of YouTubers such as Mr. Trashpack or Fräulein Chaos are not only about sharing knowledge. Another message is how all of us can contribute to making our society more sustainable in our everyday lives. Furthermore, the project fulfills a facilitating role by familiarizing scientists with the reality of young people’s lives and their expectations. Initiators of the campaign are the German branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the educational initiative MESH Collective.
How does the project work?
Starting with the Earth Overshoot Day 2018, August 1, a total of nine videos will be released over the course of a year on the channels of YouTubers such as Mr. Trashpack, Dillan White, and I'm Jette. Earth Overshoot Day symbolically marks the date when mankind has used more from nature than the planet can renew in the entire year. Answering the guiding question, “How can I live within the limits of our planet?”, the YouTubers talk about topics such as extreme weather, plastic pollution of the oceans, or meat consumption. Scientists join the discussions in the comment sections of the channels and answer questions. The content for the videos was jointly developed by young people, scientists, and YouTubers in several workshops. Initially, the young people, supported by the scientists, identified topics they considered particularly relevant. In a second step, the scientists developed fact sheets for each topic. All the input was then provided to the YouTubers.
Who are the target groups?
The primary target group is young people who have had little exposure to science. But the project is also aimed at scientists, who can learn more about young people’s lives and interests and thus gain access to their target group.
Who organizes the project?
WWF Deutschland – concept design and execution of workshops with young people and scientists; provision of scientific input in the form of fact sheets on the selected topics as a basis for the YouTubers’ videos; overall coordination.
MESH Collective – recruiting of YouTubers, concept design and execution of YouTuber workshop, video production.