With the help of an array of sponsors, the Spring Sustainability Series will provide moviegoers with insight on current environmental issues, entertainment and tips on how to personally prioritize sustainability.

The film series, which began in 2012, will feature seven films this semester about a range of different environmental-related topics. Each film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Ohio University faculty members, students and Athens business owners and activists.

The spring series will kick off Wednesday with a screening of The Anthropologist, a film which follows a mother/daughter duo as they study the effects of climate change on indigenous people. The film will be followed by a panel discussion by two anthropology faculty members and a student.

If You Go:

What: Sustainability Series: The Anthropologist

When: 7 p.m., Wednesday

Where: The Athena Cinema

Admission: Free

Loraine McCosker, outreach coordinator for the OU environmental studies program and coordinator for the Common Experience Project on Sustainability, spends months carefully selecting the films that will be shown each semester. She said she works with OU Libraries to select films that are informative, but also engaging to students.

“Film is a great way to provide information,” she said. “In an hour or an hour and a half, people can learn so much about a topic.”

McCosker said she hopes the screenings will present a balance between the problems Earth faces and potential solutions. She hopes moviegoers will leave with new knowledge about tips on what they can personally do to combat those challenges.

“I believe strongly that some of the challenges we face economically or socially or environmentally are impacted by individual choices,” she said. “So we’ll have little ideas that people can take away from the films, like how they can be more sustainable in their lifestyles.”

This semester, the series will have several sponsors, including university entities like Campus Recycling and Zero Waste, local businesses like Little Fish Brewing Company and nonprofit organizations like Upgrade Athens. 

“We’ve always had a few sponsors, but our funding was impacted last year so we had to learn to be creative,” McCosker said. “It’s actually really good because these people are coming to the panels. They’re providing new insights into these films.”

Another sponsor of the film series will be the OU Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics. Bernhard Debatin, a professor of journalism and director of the institute, will participate in the panel discussion following the film What Lies Upstream: Water and Soil Testing Campaign. The movie documents an investigation into the 2014 chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia, which left thousands of people without drinking water for months.

Debatin said he chose to involve the Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics with the series because environmental justice is a very important ethical issue. Film depicts such environmental issues in ways that are often much more impactful than simply reading about them.

“I think a series like that is very helpful because usually when you watch a movie, almost always it’s a particular story about how people are affected by a specific environmental problem,” he said. “Listening to those stories and seeing people who are directly affected has a very important function in this.”



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