Leading the Planet Forward

Students share their stories at the annual Planet Forward summit.
Students share their stories at the annual Planet Forward summit.
July 05, 2018

Young people are leading the way in building a sustainable world. Planet Forward - created in 2009 by Emmy Award-winning journalist Frank Sesno— is playing an instrumental role in those efforts. The initiative, situated in GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs, empowers new voices and leads a global conversation on the planet’s future.

Using media, events, workshops, competitions, and storytelling, Planet Forward engages a diverse audience of young voices, innovators, and leaders in Washington, D.C., and around the world. The annual Planet Forward Storyfest Awards recognize the best and most compelling student-told stories illuminating environmental issues and solutions. Since 2015, more than 500 students have submitted entries on topics as diverse as innovations to help cities develop sustainably, how to preserve and foster ecosystems, and new ways to generate cleaner energy. This year, grand prize winners of the Storyfest contest will travel with Lindblad Expeditions on a storytelling expedition to Alaska.

Each year, the Planet Forward Summit brings together students from across the country—in person and virtually—around stories of people and businesses that are addressing global sustainability challenges in an innovative way. Extending the effort across the country, a broad range of schools—representing public, private, historically black, and tribal land grant colleges and universities—are offering experiential learning opportunities through the Planet Forward Consortium.

Land O’Lakes, a food and agriculture company, has provided general operating support for Planet Forward since 2016. Other organizations—including Discovery Communications, Lindblad Expeditions, Alaska Airlines, Skanska, Monsanto, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Program USA, sweetgreen, and 1% for the Planet—are helping Planet Forward ensure that student voices lead innovation in addressing the planet’s biggest challenges.

Read more stories from the Spring 2018 issue of GW Impact