The Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education (YEAH) Network is a transdisciplinary, multi-institutional network that equips students with real-world experience of collaborative, evidence-based approaches to global environmental sustainability. In today’s students, we see agents of change for the future. Therefore, the YEAH Network connects institutions of higher education from all over the globe to provide integrated knowledge to students that empowers them to address complex global environmental problems, ranging from pollinator decline and biodiversity loss to climate shifts and ecosystem transformations. Our Members are geographically and culturally diverse institutions that share a common desire to prepare and inspire undergraduate and graduate students to effectively analyse global environmental issues and contribute to policy solutions. Together, we recognize that a truly transdisciplinary approach to student training and professional development is necessary and can be accomplished by a multi-institutional approach that is seamlessly incorporated in the higher educational experience.
The YEAH Network develops virtual classrooms at the undergraduate and graduate levels that provide environmental learning through structured and real-life experiences of international negotiations. Our modules are designed to impart knowledge that integrates science and international governance using the frameworks that guide international conversations, such as the Sustainable Development Goals. Students work together in virtual and collaborative classrooms as teams with international and multicultural members whom they would not encounter at their home institutions. Students and seasoned investigators from diverse backgrounds collaborate for a common purpose and agenda giving them a sense of belonging, purposefulness, and continued motivation to achieve global goals. In this manner, students are introduced into the realms of policy and trained to engage actively in international collaborations that are tackling global environmental issues. Students participating in the YEAH Network classrooms directly increase public scientific literacy by sharing their research at the annual COP meetings of the United Nations, where diplomats are invited to listen, at professional society meetings, such as those of the Ecological Society of America, and in their local communities as well. Student participants of the YEAH Network are trained to apply their learning into multitudinous career paths, whether it be scientific research, economics, business, academia, health fields, policy, or other related fields.
Our communication platforms
YEAH is a virtual worldwide network. By necessity, the primary communication tools are online, such as social media and virtual conferences. Given the complex structure of YEAH as both a network that is also developing teaching tools, we use diverse forms for communication and are always looking to expand our horizons.
Steering Committee Virtual Conference Calling
The YEAH steering committee meets via Zoom conferencing once a month during the US spring semesters and weekly during the fall semesters in advance of the UN COP meetings. Zoom recordings of all steering committee meetings will be filed in the YEAH library and open for review by all YEAH members.
Online student work platforms
Slack is a virtual workspace that provides tools for facilitating student progress and communication within project teams including links to google docs and other electronic platforms. Slack is open to students and institutions participating in the annual COP Lab and is not publicly visible outside of YEAH.
Within the greater framework of the UN COP WhatsApp and Twitter are the primary sources of communication among participants. YEAH uses both the COP Lab and Twitter for public communication, while Whatsapp communications are closed groups requiring an invitation or open link to join. Students and YEAH members will be introduced to the common ‘diplomacy’ that takes place on social media during COPs especially with the international audiences.
The YEAH works through Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organisations (RINGO), Ecological Society of America (ESA), and other professional organizations. RINGO as a recognized observer to COP and ESA as a professional science society are two important groups to assist with communicating YEAH goals and encouraging new members. YEAH anticipates adding other professional societies as the network grows.