• Diane

Stale campaigns yield stale results

I’m taking my last lecture-based class this trimester. I normally really enjoy lecture courses and even working on the assignments. This class was a bit different. We had to design an environmental campaign for the university as a group…

You may know where I’m about to go now. To rantville.

We all have a group project horror story right? If you’ve done group work and feel it all went well, just maybe you were the other people’s horror story.

When the topics for the project were released I latched onto the idea of making a campaign to get academics to fly less. I immediately started jotting down all the ideas going through my head. “Kiwis don’t fly” needs to be the slogan! The fact that our national bird, something so iconic to our country, is flightless is just too good not to use. I wanted to go with a futuristic theme focusing on teleconferencing as the way of the future. I had images in my head of a kiwi wearing VR goggles, a kiwi sitting at a computer screen video conferencing with a bald eagle (to signify an American), and a super futuristic VR meeting with all kinds of birds from different countries. The idea was to get students to be the leaders of the technological revolution to use the tools we have to fly less. I was stoked.

We did none of that.

I’m not saying my ideas were brilliant. They were immediate to hearing the prompt. Imagine what we could have come up with over 3 months working together on something.

Instead, we redid the campaign that last years course did. A pledging website. You can make a pledge to fly less in the upcoming year.

Look, I get it. Group projects are the majority rules. Everyone else wanted to do this. A nice safe route. All the usual information that climate campaigns usually have. Fact and figures about the impacts of flying. Tools and calculators and decision trees. And research. Loads of research.

Here is my issue with this. Climate fatigue is a very real thing. People are disengaged with the science and hearing about how climate change is going to kill us all. They are tired of hearing about their “ecological footprint” and “carbon emissions”.

So what did this campaign do? Exactly that.

I’m interested in fiction for a reason. It’s not always appropriate and wouldn’t have been here. Still, even with a university campaign such as this, a new way of framing the issue is needed. We could have done anything. We didn’t even implement any of this. The scope was limitless. Yet, they only wanted to use the same stale ideas of last year.

Now is the time to start breaking some rules. There’s no reason not to. Just because you are a postgrad student does not mean you have to take yourself so seriously. Current methods of inspiring appropriate changes are not working. We need to try new things. Have some fun with it. If it fails, we’re only back to where we started. Let’s at least try and grab people’s attention. Create a message with enough fun and humour to go viral. Or controversial enough to get people talking. But let’s make something not so easy to ignore.

And let’s stop making students do group work.

CliFi Productions

Passionate about Game Design, Fiction, and Science Communication