Journalist ◆ Filmmaker ◆ Academic | Tackling Qatar’s Environmental Issues: NU-Q Students Launch Qatarvironment.org
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Posted by Christina Paschyn in News & Updates

Tackling Qatar’s Environmental Issues: NU-Q Students Launch Qatarvironment.org

Qatar may be small in size but not when it comes to its environmental footprint. Qatarvironment brings to light the country’s environmental and sustainability issues. 

Feb. 17, 2014

Every year at Northwestern University in Qatar, I teach a five-week intensive course called Advanced Online Storytelling. The class simulates a newsroom and students work together to produce a multimedia reporting site. This year my students created Qatarvironment, a comprehensive website that tackles the country’s sustainability and environmental issues, such as food security, overfishing, energy consumption, endangered species, carbon emissions and more. The students are divided into five teams: a website creation/PR team, data and graphics team, print team, photo team and video team. We have some really cool interactive graphics, in-depth videos, slideshows and extensive articles. From the press release my students wrote:

Qatar may be small in size but not when it comes to its environmental footprint. Excessive energy consumption, skyrocketing carbon dioxide emissions and poor food security are all problems that the country is facing.  But Qatar is taking initiatives to become a more environmentally friendly nation in the near future.

Students enrolled in the Advanced Online Storytelling course at Northwestern University in Qatar are launching a multimedia news website, www.qatarvironment.org, that investigates Qatar’s environmental issues and the initiatives the government is taking to tackle these problems.

“In 2012, Qatar hosted the COP18 conference, which I thought was really informative,” said Christina Paschyn, instructor of the NU-Q journalism course. “Qatar has the highest carbon emissions per capita in the world, and I think it is important for people to cover the story and what Qatar is doing to lower its environmental footprint.”

According to the World Bank, Qatar emits an estimated 40.3 tons of carbon dioxide per person. One of the steps Qatar is taking to tackle this issue is by building one of the first passivhauses in the region, which are buildings that are energy efficient and will emit 50 percent less carbon emissions than a traditional house.

Despite Qatar’s sustainability efforts, issues such as overfishing and over consumption of energy are underlying concerns that the student-produced website investigates.

The Advanced Online Storytelling journalism course prepares students for their junior-year public relations or journalism residencies, during which they spend 10 weeks working at a professional news or communications organization. On Feb. 14th, 2014, students will travel to Washington D.C., New York and other cities for their residencies at The Huffington Post, Sports Illustrated, Euronews, Qatar Foundation International and communications firm Brown Lloyd James, among others.

This project was a learning experience for Angel Polacco, one of the juniors who was part of the print team. “I found out that there’s a lot of miscommunication in the recycling industry and there isn’t a central source that provides information about it,” said Polacco.

For others, this project was a reality check. “Covering these stories allowed me to dig deep into issues that I knew very little about, issues that will greatly affect my future as a Qatari citizen,” said Maha Al Ansari, who was part of the video team.

Neglecting the environment might not have an immediate effect on us, but it will definitely affect future generations. Visit www.qatarvironment.org to learn what the major problems are and what you can do to preserve Qatar’s future. 

The site was featured on Justhere.qa yesterday and Doha News today (Feb. 17, 2014). Check out the latter’s story on us here.

Feb. 23, 2014

The site has now been featured in The Peninsula, Al Bawaba, Qatar Living and Qatar Is Booming. We’ve even been described as “groundbreaking!”

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