Climatepedia Represents UCI at 2018 AASHE Conference

The UCI Global Sustainability Resource Center provided funds to support the trip for Climatepedia at UC Irvine members to the 2018 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Conference, the largest sustainability conference in the country. Climatepedia is a climate communications organization with a mission to communicate the risks and solutions of climate change in a simple and reliable way. Students from Climatepedia at UC Irvine have started a meme page on Instagram as a way to share climate data and engage people with sustainability facts online. During Week 1 of Fall Quarter, UCI students Gianna Lum and Patricia Haigh had the opportunity to present their meme page (@climate_memes) at the 2018 AASHE Conference.
The 2019 AASHE Conference & Expo is now accepting proposals from now until March 3rd, 2019. The conference will be held on October 27 – 30, 2019 in Spokane, Washington, and themed “Co-Creating a Sustainable Economy.” Learn more and submit a proposal by visiting the AASHE Website here.
Check out the exciting summary by Gianna and Patricia below about their experience at the conference and the new information they learned:
Exploring Pittsburgh – 2018 AASHE Conference Host City
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a scenic place and known as the “city of bridges” with over 440 bridges! It is a very walkable city, and we had a lovely time exploring the area of downtown Pittsburgh around David L. Lawrence Convention Center. We visited a peculiar stone fountain that looked like a pyramid in the middle of the city, and an art gallery with vibrant photography of the cityscape and the changing leaves of autumn.

Sustainable Food
All of the food served at AASHE was plant-based and very delicious. They used sustainable plates and utensils to cut down on waste. Lunchtime at the conference was a great time to make friends and network with people from all around the country. Some of the people we met were a friendly woman from Puerto Rico who worked with ecotourism, a professor from New York who sponsored an environmental film festival, and a young man from Texas who left his state for the first time to attend AASHE.
Climatepedia’s Presentation
We gave our presentation on the third day of the conference, and although it was at 8:30 a.m. there was a good turnout of about 30 people. The audience consisted of professors, sustainability directors, and other undergraduate students from all over the country. Ever since our presentation, we have been receiving emails to share a copy of our Climate edition of What Do You Meme. We received great feedback after our presentation and gave those who attended ideas about how to reach out to a younger audience. Our meme page has grown tremendously since the presentation, and we have now reached nearly 1,000 followers!
Here are some of our lessons learned from the other presentations at the conference:
1. Lucid: Turning a Student Research Project into a Fortune 500 Company

  • Started at Oberlin College in 2004
  • Lucid uses analytics and engaging interface to manage building efficiency
  • First green buildings were just starting in 2004
  • From 2004-2005 Lucid worked on “dumb buildings” (buildings without green technology)
  • Lucid had to branch out beyond education to industry and engineering in order to get the resources and skills they needed
  • They realized that buildings are a software problem; inefficiencies in heating, cooling, and lighting can be attributed to software
  • Lucid presented at a TEDx talk, which was a catalyst for them to gain visibility and investors
  • They are now a Fortune 500 company based out of the Bay Area

2. Students, Sustainability, and Social Media: Tools for Content and Collaboration

  • Student interns: Let them do what interests them first, then the skills will follow. They create content for social media and communications.
  • At the beginning of the internship, teams talk about their best and worst team experiences and tell everyone their strengths and weaknesses so that they can understand each other better and move forward together as a group
  • From NYU: have a face on social media so people can connect, list best and worst team efforts, “Game-ify” work: 30 second games to promote creativity (We could challenge students to make a meme in 30 seconds, doesn’t have to be good)
  • Fun stories about people do better on social media
  • EVERYTHING posted should have visual content, limit to 2 hashtags and 2 people in the photo
  • Each photo should have the 3ps: People, place, and purpose
  • Instagram stories are great for exposure
  • They have stories with a sustainability tip every week and have used the “ask a question” feature

3. Sustainability in the Visual Arts, Design and Creative Fields

  • Givetake program- accept art donations and redistribute to students. Pratt University redistributed 18,000 lbs of supplies
  • Science and art have worked hand in hand forever. Before photography, scientists had to draw their data – think Lewis and Clark
  • Scientific illustration is a growing field
  • Avoid “sustainability” and political terms to make sure people understand
  • Climate visualization – turning climate data into art
  • Packaging materials can be used for art. Only 9% of plastic globally is being recycled

4. Selling Sustainability: 5 Principles of Persuasion

  • From Kirksey Architecture – Austin, TX
  • People tend to reason with the beliefs that they already have
  • People register ideas strongly against their beliefs as attacks to the brain
  • The backfire effect – giving people facts and then they fight back
  • Rhetoric can be used for good or evil: think Othello (Shakespeare) vs. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)
  • /r/changemyview on reddit to get better at rhetoric
  • Brain rules
  • 5 Principles of Persuasion – we used this technique in an exercise to persuade people to try lab-cultured meat!
    1. Stories- triumph over struggle
    2. Table leg-humans prefer complete( maybe false) explanations rather than none at all. Give a new, complete table leg.
    3. Consensus-ppl change their opinions to confirm with a group. It’s painful for ppl to not conform. The more likes something has, the more likable it becomes
    4. Use language that audience will understand and care about. “Don’t mess with Texas”
    5. Joint problem solving