866-266-7496 mediacommons@psu.edu

Case Study: FOR 201

Global Change and Ecosystems

Global Change and Ecosystems is designed to provide students with a general understanding of the climate system, ecosystems and feedback between the two. The goal of this course is to develop critical thinking skills related to understanding the many relationships between society and natural systems. Students created video public service announcements (PSAs) on global change and ecosystems topics of their choice to get experience in new media literacy.

Project in Brief

Course: FOR 201
Instructor: Matthew Hurteau
Number of Students: 18
Semester: Fall 2012
Duration of Assignment: 6 weeks

Key Benefits

Students will complete this class with the ability to:

  • Interpret scientific figures
  • Critically evaluate information about global change and ecosystems
  • Define what constitutes an ecosystem and the controlling factors
  • Describe Earth’s biomes and major ecosystems
  • Describe the impacts of global change factors on ecosystems.

They called upon these skills in the creation of their PSAs.

Project Description for Students

Your assignment for the multimedia assignment is to produce a 3-5 minute public service announcement on global change, global change impacts, or global change mitigation. Global change includes the global change factors we have discussed in class (land-use change, climate change, pollution).

The purpose of the video is to develop an educational piece on one of the following topics:

  1. How do we know humans are accelerating climate change?
  2. How will global change impact an ecosystem of your choosing?
  3. How will global change impact agriculture?
  4. How will global change impact forests?
  5. How will global change impact society?
  6. What are proposed mitigation strategies?

If you have a specific topic that does not seem to fit within one of these, I am happy to discuss it with you.

Audience for this project: The American Public.

The purpose is to communicate information at a level that is understandable by a large portion of the population (i.e. don’t make it too technical). If you are wondering if it is too technical, ask yourself if one of your parents would understand it.

For the video portion, students will:

  • Assess an appropriate video style for their message.
  • Research information on their chosen topic.
  • Receive Media Commons training on crafting digital stories, working with audio and video equipment and editing using GarageBand or iMovie software.
  • Identify appropriate media tools and techniques for their chosen topics.
  • Record, edit and publish commercials to iTunes U for evaluation.

Download the Assignment

Grading Process

The final project is worth 20% of the course grade. Students worked in groups of two and have six weeks to complete their assignments.

Projects were evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Accuracy of content
  • Clear message for target audience
  • Support of message through visuals and text
  • Support of message through sound
  • Grabs attention and interest
  • Good production quality

Download the Rubric


  • iMovie
  • Video camera
  • GarageBand


  • Researching topics
  • Effective communication
  • Working in groups
  • Conveying information using multimedia
  • Information synthesis

Target Skills

  • Researching
  • Storytelling
  • New media literacy

(Instructor’s) Lessons Learned

The video projects let them dive more deeply into an area they were interested in while synthesizing scientific information for a general audience.”