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Millennials meet environmental change via digital means

March 7, 2017


Monique Thormann

A group of Jackson School undergraduate students together with Washington state’s Tulalip Tribes launched a new interactive digital story “Finding Common Ground in a World of Environmental Change” to over 50 UW students, faculty and local communities who gathered Monday evening at UW’s Intellectual House to learn more about environmental issues affecting the Tulalip Tribes.

Task Force student Tiffany Swaw (at podium) outlines the strategic communications plan, which includes in part an Instagram account, digital storytelling and public events around four key messages the students developed in partnership with the Tulalip Tribes.

The event featured remarks by students, faculty and Tulalip members as well as a screening of a digital story designed to communicate to non-tribal millennials Puget Sound restoration efforts and treaty rights.

The intent of the public event was to ‘test’ how effective the digital story was in raising awareness about treaty rights and the Tulalip Tribe’s environmental recovery efforts and to provoke self-reflection by event attendees as to their level of understanding and willingness to support such efforts.

The digital story, a collaborative effort between 15 International Studies majors and Tulalip Tribes Public Affairs, is only one component of a strategic communications plan the students developed as part of their Jackson School’s capstone course Task Force.

The Task Force, “Finding Common Ground: Communicating Across Borders in a World of Environmental Change” was one of eight global affairs topics this year for which graduating seniors majoring in international studies researched and developed realistic policy recommendations.

The focus on millennials, environmental change and Washington State grew out of an ongoing collaboration between Jackson School Professor Patrick Christie, who also holds a joint appointment with the School of Marine and Environmental Studies, and the Tulalip Tribes to explore the opportunities for Puget Sound restoration led by treaty tribes.

“Improving communication between non-tribal millennials and the Tulalip Tribes is an important goal if historic miscommunications are to be overcome and UW students are to receive a balanced education about ocean policy in Washington,” said Professor Christie.

An interactive, digital story about the environmental change in Washington state, impacting the livelihood of the Tulip Tribes, was screened in public for the first time at UW Intellectual House on Monday, March 6.

Nathan Aberg, one of the Task Force students who introduced the digital story presentation, spoke about using digital as “the glue” in reaching the millennial generation, and how the story incorporates the growing passion they felt for indigenous rights, with an ultimate goal to breed action among millenials for environmental protection and treaty rights.

Representatives of the Tulalip Tribes, including Francesca Hillery, Public Affairs Manager, shared the impact of environmental changes on their livelihoods and important research and partnership with the students.

Task Force consists of small groups of Jackson School undergraduates who investigate a real-world policy issue and produce a final report and practical policy recommendations, to be presented in front of an external evaluator. The evaluation is held on the last day of winter quarter, which this year was on Friday, March 10.

“Communication between tribal and non-tribal entities has frequently been fraught and ineffective,” said Professor Christie. “This Task Force will identify new means and tools of communication that the tribes can employ in this realm.”


Click here to view the digital story
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