Planet Forward Will Lead University Consortium

GW will engage with colleges and universities globally for the sustainability initiative.

Feeding the Planet
Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs and Planet Forward Founder Frank Sesno addresses students at the "Feeding the Planet Summit" held in October. The organization announced the launch of the Planet Forward University Consortium last week.
May 05, 2014

The George Washington University's Planet Forward announced the launch of the Planet Forward University Consortium,  a multimedia digital story-telling collaborative that will engage colleges and universities globally to support sustainable programming, student engagement, internships and other projects around the issues of food security, water, energy and climate change.

Planet Forward, a sustainability and media production of the Center for Innovative Media at GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs, founded and will lead the consortium. The principal focus of 2014-2015 Feeding the Planet Initiative will be how climate change is affecting the world’s food production, supplies, and nutrition.

Five universities have joined GW in the consortium: Drake University, Middlebury College, Sewanee University of the South, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the University of Arizona. Conversations with several other universities are underway to expand the consortium in the coming months.

“We will work with our university partners to drive the conversation around and address the issues of climate change and food security,” Planet Forward founder and SMPA Director Frank Sesno said. “We are creating a leadership opportunity for the university and for students to communicate and reinforce a solutions-based approach to the problems of our time.

Student-delegates will produce multimedia content with the support of Planet Forward that focuses on the intersection between climate change and food security. Partner institutions have committed to send five student-delegates to D.C. for the Planet Forward Summit to be held in April 2015 at GW. Last year, Planet Forward hosted the inaugural Feeding the Planet Summit, focused on food security and sustainable innovations that can support the rapidly growing global population.

"We will work with our university partners to drive the conversation around and address the issues of climate change and food security.” -Planet Forward founder and SMPA Director Frank Sesno.


“Students and student content will be featured prominently at the Summit,” Mr. Sesno said. “They will have the opportunity to connect with experts, innovators and researchers at the summit to discuss climate science, food preparation, organics, GMOs and other topics in a smaller classroom-like setting.” 

Tara Sonenshine, distinguished SMPA fellow and former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, has been named the coordinator of global partnerships. She will lead Planet Forward’s efforts to extend the consortium to universities around the world.

Ms. Sonenshine will also work with domestic and international organizations, such as USAID, the USDA and the World Food Program, to establish internships and other opportunities for students.

“I am looking forward to working with such talented and experienced leaders to bring about positive change for global sustainability,” Ms. Sonenshine said.

The establishment of the consortium will allow Planet Forward to connect university partners with the Feeding the Planet project and the “Planet Forward Explorers” project, which provides students with the tools and skills to document their global exploration of sustainability issues.

One opportunity will allow a student to work with a child nutrition program organized by a global humanitarian relief organization, Mr. Sesno said.

“We will be able to support students from GW and other schools as they travel domestically and internationally to learn and experience these issues firsthand,” Mr. Sesno said. “Then we will help them translate that experience into a blog, a video or a slide show.”

“Our students will see, learn, tell, inform and inspire,” he added.