Applied Learning Meets Environmental Education in PSAs Created by UNCW Students

Friday, September 30, 2016

Over the summer, students from a course taught by Bill Bolduc, associate professor of communication studies, created three public service announcements about environmental issues. The class, Environmental Documentary Production, consisted of both communication studies and environmental studies majors.

One of those PSAs, created for the City of Wilmington Stormwater Services division, will run on WECT-TV’s website and other digital platforms through December as part of a fall awareness campaign. It may be viewed online.

Bolduc teaches courses in field video production, audio production and media literacy. He provides applied learning opportunities for his students whenever possible.

“We had a lot of ground to cover in the five-week course,” said Bolduc. After a “crash course” in video fundamentals, the focus turned to techniques for creating persuasive messages about environmental issues.

Once initial research was complete, the students were tasked with communicating important scientific environmental information in creative and motivational ways. Guest presentations by those involved with UNCW’s sustainability efforts and representatives from the City of Wilmington Stormwater Services further helped the students develop targeted messages.

After scouting locations and developing detailed shot lists and storyboards, filming began throughout campus dining halls, at Wrightsville Beach and the New Hanover County Landfill.

“The students really enjoyed the challenge of translating straightforward environmental and sustainability issues into emotional and meaningful narratives,” said Bolduc. “They expressed appreciation at learning how to take important environmental messages from the idea stage to developing a tangible message that may convince a few citizens to behave more responsibly. We moved quickly but everyone, including me, was satisfied at the outcome of our efforts.”

Jennifer Butler, stormwater education program manager for the City of Wilmington, says working with UNCW is “one of her favorite collaborations.”

“It’s a win-win situation,” she said. “I get to educate students about stormwater and they use their technical and creative skills to make a solid PSA about a complex topic.”

-- Caroline Cropp