In this episode, MIT graduate researcher Brandon Leshchinskiy shares how he’s preparing the next generation of climate educators to tackle one of humanity’s most pressing challenges.



In our previous episode we met Professor Dava Newman, cofounder of the nonprofit group EarthDNA. Today’s guest is Brandon Leshchinskiy, a graduate student in Technology and Policy at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, who has helped Prof. Newman create the EarthDNA Ambassadors program, training young people in communication, negotiation, and storytelling to build support for individual and collective action on climate change. Leshchinskiy has crafted an engaging interactive presentation, called Climate 101, that creatively employs materials from various sources to examine climate change from scientific, economic, and civic perspectives. By teaching young people to deliver this presentation effectively, he is developing a cohort of trained climate educators who can in turn teach their peers to reach out to friends and family on one of humanity’s most pressing issues. In this episode, Leshchinskiy discusses why young people make effective climate ambassadors, how climate presentations can be made more powerful by customizing them with specific details that are relevant to people’s own communities, what we can learn from society’s response to the challenges of Covid-19, and how to avoid developing “doom fatigue” from exposure to negative news stories.

Relevant Resources

MIT OpenCourseWare

OCW’s 20th anniversary celebration registration page

The OCW Educator Portal

EarthDNA on the Web

EarthDNA’s Climate 101 on OCW

EarthDNA Ambassadors program

Wangari Maathai (Nobel Peace Prize winner)

“I will be a hummingbird” (YouTube video)

Professor Dava Newman at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society

Rand Wentworth at Harvard’s Center for the Environment

Music in this episode by Blue Dot Sessions

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Sarah Hansen, host and producer

Brett Paci, producer

Dave Lishansky, producer

Show notes by Peter Chipman