When you first enter a classroom and see a wave of unfamiliar faces, do you expect to work with everyone in that class or do you assume that whoever sits near you will be your discussion partner for the whole semester? Would you ever imagine that one of them would be so ambitious and motivate the whole class to join together and make a major statement for social change?
In two sociology classes taught by University of Maryland’s Professor Leszek Sibilski, 50 students all joined forces to not just raise awareness of climate change but to also start a chain reaction of actual social change around the issue.
On the first day of Professor Sibilski’s "Contemporary Social Problems" class, I was very much a cynic and had little faith that my classmates would think about coming together for any serious endeavors. I even doubted my professor when he told us that we would work together on a video project that would spread globally and really get people talking. Well, I stand happily corrected in my cynicism. There was a great deal of kinship when we all supported one another as we flubbed through lines, changed our intonations, and sat through countless versions of the video until we had created the best one possible for the world to see.
Thanks to the power of social media and online marketing, many people from all over the globe have indeed seen our class video! We have comments in multiple languages on YouTube and at latest count, there are over 2800 views from around the world. When we set out to make a genuine effort to spur people to act and commit to social change, I was floored to see the results we garnered so quickly. If anything could be said about this project, it would be that it not only got external people involved in seeking change, but it also inspired a group of normally apathetic students - myself included - to want to seek real global change as well.
Now, with the collaborative support of the World Bank’s Connect4Climate (C4C) initiative, we are proud to introduce a new video that we shot on Earth Day, 2013, when members of the C4C Team came to speak to our class.
In this video, my classmates and I all share simple ideas as to how we can begin the process of correcting the damage we have caused. Unless collective social action is taken now, the dire effects of climate change will be felt most acutely by our generation and those younger than we are. There is thus a clear need for students and youth to be proactive and to share positive role models and ideas with other young people from around the world. Earth Day is a day for the world and its inhabitants to connect - even if it’s just through the Internet – to improve the planet. So even though April 22 has passed, Earth Day is really just a reminder of what we should be doing on a daily basis. With this video, we are starting a global challenge to address climate change and sending a message from our university campus to you and your communities: all people need to unite and revive the planet we love. Please join us and Connect4Climate!
Learn more about the UMD/C4C connection.