Communications for climate justice

August 12, 2022, Kathrina Welborn

Hi everyone! My name is Kathrina Welborn, and I am a sophomore in the environmental studies program with a minor in music production. This summer I have been delighted to be a part of the Wrigley Institute’s summer environmental communications internship program.

Joining this program and working with the program coordinators, other interns, and my mentor professor and her team has been a truly amazing experience. Throughout high school I had a strong interest in both environmental studies and English, particularly journalism, so this internship was a perfect blend of my academic interests. It also allowed me to work on more creative projects in website design, graphic design, video editing, and more through this internship, which is truly the ideal intersection of my passion for environmental studies and my creative pursuits.

This summer I worked with Dr. Shannon Gibson and her two graduate student research assistants, Kirian Mischke-Reeds and Murad Jah, to create a name, identity, logo, and website for her lab which is now called the Gibson Climate Justice Lab. I also created a short video showcasing the lab’s focus and research, as well as why their work focusing on climate justice in the context of global climate conferences is important.

a screen shot of the homepage of the Gibson Climate Justice Lab website, showing bars of light green and a photo of Shannon Gibson with four students
The new website I designed for the Gibson Climate Justice Lab

In this record-breakingly hot summer, with hundreds of news articles filled with doom and gloom about climate change and environmental issues, it has been incredibly beneficial to see that there are still so many people including those in the Gibson Climate Justice Lab fighting to make a difference and elevate all voices in global politics, not just those speaking from a place of power. The Gibson Climate Justice Lab focuses on global climate conferences such as the Conference of the Parties (COP), especially with regard to underrepresented and marginalized voices such as those from the Global South, Indigenous communities, gendered perspectives, and more. These voices have been left out of the conversation around climate change despite often being the ones to suffer the brunt of climate change consequences for far too long.

Throughout this summer we also had the opportunity to have small group meetings with some incredible guest speakers in science communication or other communication roles. Learning about their paths to get to where they are today is truly inspirational, and a reminder of the many paths one can follow in environmental studies and communications. Until this internship, I had no idea of the important role that science communication plays in the world, as it acts as a bridge between scientists and the general public. So much of the incredible work that communicators and particularly science communicators do is behind the scenes, so it was nice to be able to learn more about these careers in depth.

My biggest takeaway from this internship has been the importance of communicating science and new scientific findings and research to the general public. I am honored to have been a very small part of this very big process through my work this summer with the Gibson Climate Justice Lab, and I am excited to carry this experience with me through future work and life in general.

Thank you so much to the program coordinators Jessica Dutton and Kathryn Royster, my mentor Dr. Shannon Gibson and her graduate students Kirian Mischke-Reeds and Murad Jah in the Gibson Climate Justice Lab, our amazing guest speakers, my fellow interns, and of course the Wrigley Institute.

Watch Kathrina’s video introducing the Gibson Climate Justice Lab