Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Hot off the press

One of the things I've been working on at Kyoto University is figuring out how to talk about environmental issues in a way that resonates with the public. After all, what good is scientific research if you can't communicate it?

There's a lot of interesting work going on at Kyoto University's Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies. But no one knows about it because very few of us bring our stories beyond the conference circuit. Professor Tracey Gannon wants to rectify this. So she created a newsletter to highlight some of the work being done by faculty and students in our graduate school. I helped her edit the newsletter and wrote an article on the future of nuclear power in Japan. The inaugural issue is now online.

The first issue focuses on the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and what faculty and students are doing to help the country rebuild. One article explains how the engineering department created an eco-friendly toilet for evacuees who were staying in shelters where there was often only one toilet for 500 people. Another article looks at the work of the disaster management lab, which is researching the role of social media during the Tohoku disaster. My friend Melina wrote about her experience volunteering in the disaster-affected area. Another student wrote about Kobe's Maiko High School, which is the only school in Japan that teaches a special course on environment and disaster mitigation.

The newsletter is stripped of academic jargon in order to tell our stories in a clear and compelling way. It's not the New Yorker and it won't win any design awards but it's a much-needed bridge between scientists and the public.

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