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The Polaris study project visualizes climate change anxiety

Finnish Broadcasting Company’s mobile story tries to capture how young adults experience climate change
Polaris-projekti visualisoi nuorten ilmastoahdistusta

Aalto University's study psychologist, Sanni Saarimäki, established a discussion group on climate change. The students wished for a broader public debate around climate change. The Polaris project was initiated to respond to this need.

The student team wanted to highlight the effects of climate change on deciding whether to have children or not. Climate change is linked to the parenthood crisis, but the public debate is missing. The mobile story can offer peer support.

The climate anxiety was surveyed by interviewing Nani Pajunen, the leading specialist on circular economy at Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, and Sini Harkki, Country Manager of Greenpeace, and Sanni Saarimäki, the study psychologist. In addition, Finnish Broadcasting company’s (YLE) team has directed the production of journalistic content.

How does climate anxiety look like?

The mobile stories looked for a natural and visual way of talking that is familiar to the younger audiences. Though anxiety is the main theme, it is essential to give hope and provide possibilities for action. The story consists of a combination of anonymous interviews, expert comments, and a photo series.

‘The photo story that the students imagined and implemented is a stabbing visualization of the emotions that make it difficult to see the future bright. Anxiety experienced by young adults is a powerful experience, and at the same time a merciless truth about the state of the planet,’ says visiting teacher Päivi Häikiö, who directed students at Aalto.

The mobile story was generated in collaboration between Yle Plus Desk and the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, and it is the first part of the concept. Oona Räyhäntausta, Iina Sillfors and Aina Viukari, students of Aalto Visual Communication Design Program have designed the text and image content. The story will be presented in an exhibition at Helsinki Design Week in Otaniemi in September 2019.

The project was a practical way to immerse oneself in the world of young adults, both in terms of content and communication. Yle's strategy emphasizes interaction and involvement with different audiences. Young adults are a particularly challenging target group.

‘We are constantly discussing how to reach young adults with our online content. It seemed meaningful to carry out the project together with the students, learning by doing,’ says Heli Suominen, the journalist in charge of the project at Yle.

Leading Team at Aalto: Visiting Teacher Päivi Häikiö, Producer Minna Ainoa, Assistant Professor Arja Karhumaa

YLE Plusdesk: Working Group Mika Pippuri, Heli Suominen, Joel Kanerva, Juha Rissanen

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