Our World 2.0 Trailer in Akihabara

For the month of August, our catchy new video trailer is up on the big Yodobashi Camera screen in Akihabara – the Tokyo electronics district. It runs through August every few minutes during the morning commute: 7:30-8:30am.

This is our second run on the big outdoor screen. Our very first video brief also ran on this same screen every morning for a few months back in late 2008.


by Jason Hall on August 20, 2010 - Comments (00)  

A new documentary on biodiversity in Kanazawa city

UNU Media Studio is working on a new documentary to portray 4 seasons in Kanazawa city.  The documentary theme is biodiversity in city environement. People do not usually connect city and biodiversity, and that’s very natural.   Therefore, it’s a challenging theme for a documentary.  However, Kanazawa is a city with diverse landscape.  It has deep mountains to ocean in the small city boundary. That help the residents to enjoy diverse plants and insects, birds and animals to live around them and shows up depending on the season.

It is a Kanazawa city’s project to make this documentary to celebrate UN International year of biodiversity, especially because the closing event will be held in Kanazawa this December.

Media Studio usually use HDV cameras, which is good for documentary shoots with small crew travels all over the world.  However, for this project, we decided to use Red One camera, partly because we are working with a cinematographer who is experienced in Red shoot and owns one.

To illustrate the quality of the camera it can bring, I put together a short video.  David from Media Studio did a Quick color correction, but not too much has done yet.  I’m not sure if this is a good example of Red footage, but since there hasn’t many documentary shot on Red in Japan(I think) it might be a good example.

by Kaori Brand on May 10, 2010 - Comments (00)  

UNU Media Studio – a fine 2009

From January 2009, my world changed a little for the better. You could say I was in a good place at a good time. After publishing my research on bottled water in Asia for the Our World 2.0 webzine, Media Studio head Brendan Barrett decided to take a chance on me. I stuck around as one of two part-time editor for the magazine (Carol Smith is the other), complementing my research and editing work for the UNU-ISP.

12 months later and after seeing 100 published articles and 14 video briefs in both English and Japanese go through the cyberspace gate, I can say sincerely it has been a privilege to work with the UNU Media Studio team. It’s always advisable to avoid clichés, but on this occasion I can’t, simply because I honestly believe: 1) the team is committed and talented and 2) the work is, people tell me, of good quality.

Media Studio Team Sans Luis Patron and Rie Hayafune

These reasons, and the support we have received from our contributors, funders and audience, have helped to ensure that a total of 1,103,381 people have been reached by our work this year (up to November). This includes audiences through the Our World 2.0 webzine, our YouTube and Vimeo channels, our online learning resources and of course through our Facebook and Twitter communities, where for the latter we have more than 1700 followers.

Much of this reach can be put down to our content being embedded in an extensive number of blogs, online magazines and other websites such as the popular Treehugger.

But numbers don’t mean everything, especially in cyberspace where attention spans are short, and the list of options of where to go to read, watch or listen to anything, is getting longer and longer all the time.

Although hard to measure, what matters is the impact you have in terms of education and behavioural change as a result of creating awareness.

The Media Studio’s video briefs are being used as powerful education and capacity-building tools for academic institutions and training events including for the up-coming UNU masters degree programmes. More recently, a DVD containing 12 of our video briefs was disseminated at the Summit on Climate Change organized by the UN Secretariat in New York on 22 September, 2009.

Our World 2.0 turns 1.5

Education does not have to be quarantined to traditional lectures and textbooks. Content and discussion is moving online and the tools to educate are also diversifying. One of the UNU’s responses to the seismic shifts in the way in which the world communicates, has been its support of the Our World 2.0 webzine. Inaugurated in July 2008, the magazine has completed it’s first full year and increased content from 1 to 3 postings a week. By sharing the stories of outstanding people working for a more sustainable future, the magazine aims to promote positive change in millions of people in the areas of climate change, peak oil, food security and now biodiversity. Biodiversity was added in recognition of its importance as a core theme for the research activities of the UNU.

Diversity in who you reach and what you write also matters. After all, this is the UN. The readership for Our World 2.0 is global, with the US, Japan and the UK providing the top three countries for visitors, and with India and China in the top ten. Although we can do better to attract contributors from the global South, we are receiving more and more contributions from writers in developing countries and those with a more immediate stake in the global pressing issues we discuss.

Interestingly, our recent reader survey showed that 80% of our readers are under the age of 40, that 68% of them hold a bachelors degree or above. Hopefully this means we are reaching the leaders of the future.

In any business or work operation, constant innovation is critical. Some things you try will work and others will need to be re-thought. Our Debate 2.0 features have been met with mixed success: some like our discussion on the environmental impacts of meat garnered a critical mass of comments and others, frankly, did not. How we encourage more direct involvement with our audience is something we’ll keep working on. In the last 6 months we have also expanded our range of communication tools to include podcasting thanks to Megumi Nishikura, and photo slideshows thanks to Sean Wood.

In recent times we have started sharing and sourcing content with our peers in the online green community. For instance, through an agreement made in August 2009, Our World 2.0 became part of the Guardian Environment Network, allowing us to source their world renowned writers in George Monbiot and Nicholas Stern and provide them with our own unique content.

Since then, the website was included as the official blog for the Gateway to the UN System’s Work on Climate Change and on 6 November 2009, won the 2009 Society for New Communications Research Excellence Award in External Communications and Communities.

Together is best

It’s hard to single out one quality that makes the UNU Media Studio effective in the work that it does. But since I have to, I would mention collaboration, both internally and externally.

This year we significantly enhanced our partnerships with other UNU research and training centres/units along a continuum of informal and formal learning activities. To date, researchers from UNU-ISP, UNU-IAS, UNU-MERIT, UNU-EHS and UNU-GTP have contributed articles.

We have also been sourced to produce videos and develop websites. For example Luis Patron has supported UNU-EHS implement the project on Sustainable Land Management in the High Pamir and Pamir-Alai Mountains (PALM) by producing two video briefs and e-learning materials on sustainable land management and climate change in Central Asia.

Citt Williams has worked with the UNU-IAS Traditional Knowledge Initiative, as a contribution to the Indigenous People’s Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA), to produce video briefs. These videos were screened at this months COP15 indigenous voices on climate change film festival in Copenhagen where Citt and Megumi are attending. This groundbreaking initiative has been conducted in partnership with indigenous story-telling communities, the National Museum of Denmark and the Christensen Fund.

In maintaining our strong links to our Japanese audience and supporters, David Jimenez and Sean have designed the International Satoyama Initiative portal and Kaori Brand has produced two satoyama videos with funding from the Ministry of the Environment Japan.

Led by Brendan and working closely with Ahkilesh and Darek from UNU-ISP, we have also partnered through the Asia Pacific Initiative – a multi-institutional educational programme involving the implementation of two semester-based courses (10 to 15 weeks) – with the University of Hawaii and a network of universities in the region. Courses on (a) Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance and (b) Climate Change, Energy and Food Security are organised in real time via video conferencing that connects classrooms at each university. Students and lecturers are also able to communicate through the Moodle online learning management system.

In the fall semester of 2008-2009, the courses were completed by 55 and 117 students respectively. Student enrollment for the fall semester of 2009-2010 courses increased to 97 and 182 respectively.

Finally, in the last twelve months we have also struck up agreements to contribute video content to the United Nations Television (UNTV) and Google Japan to collaborate with the launch of a channel on YouTube entitled Think Green and on the YouTube Food Channel. These strong relationships and the Studio’s smooth operation have been made possible by the behind the scenes work of people like Jason Hall, Rie Hayafune and Oleg Butuzov.

The future is what we make of it

While I work mostly on the Our World 2.0 website, I genuinely feel a sense of team spirit with the work that all our staff have been doing, whether it involves me directly or not. As they say in climate change, a rising tide lifts all boats.

I hope we can kick-on with your support through your contributions, feedback and comments. Our work is worthwhile doing if you are part of the conversation.

From January 2009, my world changed a little. I hope yours did too.


A special thanks to all my colleagues for their support, guidance and creativity. A super special thanks to my editorial buddies Carol Smith and Brendan Barrett, for they have spent the most time putting up with me in this first year…

by Mark Notaras on December 9, 2009 - Comments (02)  

Ending November on a high!

artivistWell, we have had a great month and it is always nice to end on a high. This morning I had two important feeds in my news reader. First, one of our articles, “Does climate change cause armed conflict? was picked up in the Guardian. Always good to get wider exposure for our writing. The article was writing by Mark Notaras and includes an interview with Vesselin Popovski, one of the leading academics in the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace.

Next, Treehugger has an article on Traditional Fire Management Helps Fight Climate Change which includes a video that was produced by the UNU Media Studio in collaboration with the Australian National University. The article includes a qoute from Sam Johnston, head of the UNU-IAS Traditional Knowledge Initiative.

Finally, one of our documentaries, Dayaks, produced by Citt Williams and Luis Patron, is screening at the Artivist Film Festival and Awards in Los Angeles from 1-5 December 2009. It will also be screened in New York and London in 2010. The theme of this year’s Artivist Festival is “Raising Awareness for Humanity, Animals and the Environment,” so the Dayak story fits perfectly. It tells about how the Dayak people in Borneo are sustainably managing their local forest.

by Brendan Barrett on November 30, 2009 - Comments (00)  

State of the UNU in 2008

UNU_ar2008_coverWithout doubt 2008 was a year that will be remembered for a very long time. It is the year that the financial crisis erupted on the global stage, triggered perhaps by high energy prices and decades of misguided financial practices. At the same time, leaders across the globe were proposing emergency measures to cope with a major food crisis.

At the end of 2008, we did not seem as rich as we once were. This is at a time when we need huge resources to cope with a growing list of global concerns related to freshwater scarcity, over fishing, shrinking biodiversity, compounded by climate change. Meanwhile wars and conflicts continue.

Everyone is affected by these changes and every institution needs to respond. It is in this context that a major re-thinking is on-going at the UNU and the initial results are presented in the UNU 2008 Annual Report.

With new vice Rectors Takeuchi and Parayil taking their posts in 2008, we have begun to see the research programmes shift in response to the new challenges facing the globe. Under Takeuchi’s leadership the new Institute for Sustainability and Peace has been established in Tokyo, while Vice Rector Parayil is now heading the Institute of Advanced Studies in Yokohama.

Download the UNU 2008 Annual Report to find out more.

by Brendan Barrett on April 28, 2009 - Comments (00)  

Best Documentary

zapataVoices of the Chichinautzin was awarded Best Science and Ecology Documentary at the 2nd IberoAmerican Film Festival held in Tepotzlan, Mexico, 11-18 May 2008.

Luis Patron, from the UNU Media Studio, was on hand to pick up the special Zapata statue. He was also present at the screening and participated in the follow-on question and answer session.

The documentary tells the story of the daily struggles of the local communities as they try to protect a biodiverse region outside Mexico City from illegal logging and development pressures. It was written, directed and co-produced by Patricia Sims, produced and co-directed by Luis Patron and edited by Michael Clark. The graphics and animations were produced by Sean Wood and David Jimenez.

The documentary will be screened on television in Mexico later this year.

Note: The photo of the statue is taken from the festival website.

by Brendan Barrett on November 13, 2009 - Comments (01)  

Japanese version of Online Learning Website

We are happy to launch the Japanese version of the UNU Online Learning website. We also translated a few pages on the UNU Media Studio blog. Our Japanese readers can learn more about the projects that we are working on. The actual learning resources, however, are still in English and we will continue to blog in English.

We have used a Wordpress plug-in called Polyglot, that supports blog publishing in several languages. We are also using the same plug-in for the Voices of the Chichinautzin website (in English and Spanish). We made some improvements to the Polyglot plug-in and we plan to share them with the developer community in the next couple of weeks. Thanks to Oleg for the programming and Ayako for the translation.


by Brendan Barrett on March 24, 2008 - Comments (00)  

UNU ranked in top ten universities in Japan

World University RankingsThe opportunities for the UNU to compare its work to that of other universities are few and far between. As such, I was very excited to see that the UNU has been included in the webometrics ranking of world universities. The purpose of these rankings is to assess the global performance and visibility of the universities.
According to the Cybermetrics Lab based in Spain, who compile the rankings, the focus is not only “on research results but also on other indicators which may reflect better the global quality of the scholar and research institutions worldwide.”
So how well does the UNU perform? According the results released in January 2008, the UNU is now ranked at number ten in Japan (up from 12 in 2007) and 483 in the world (up from 498 in 2007). This is extraordinary for a universities with just over 350 staff.
The original aim of the rankings was to support Open Access initiatives that facilitate improved electronic access to scientific publications and to other academic material. These are goals that align closely to those of the UNU and ones that we hope to promote further in the future (for instance through the new UNU Opencourseware portal).

by Brendan Barrett on January 30, 2008 - Comments (01)  

What’s in store for 2008-2009?

Have we reached the end of cheap oil?Happy New Year from the UNU Media Studio team!
We have some new activities planned for this year and next. We are currently brainstorming on a project that looks at the interaction between climate change, peak oil and food security (to name some key issues). It draws lessons over the next few years on how societies like Japan are coping with these powerful trends and, for instance, how it may be possible to meet the targets set out under the Kyoto Protocol. We will tell you more about this as we further elaborate our ideas. By the way, the photo is from Grant Neufeld and covered by a Creative Commons license.
In the early part of this year, we will be working with the World Health Organization to produce an advocacy documentary on aging happily and healthily. We did some scouting at the end of last year and the production team will be doing some filming this month in Kobe (the case study site).
A lot of projects will remain as before. We will continue to support the UNU-Global Virtual University based in Norway and also UNU Opencourseware (a cross the UNU collaboration). The video conference based classes under the Asia Pacific Initiative will continue and grow. Our collaboration with REDMESO and the development of e-case studies (using Fieldtrip) and documentaries will also develop further over the next two years.

Promoting learning on social and environmental issues is a key component of what we do. We are exploring further the role of documentaries in raising awareness on issues and prompting action. Openness is a central facet of how we approach our work and of how we share what we do through open content, open educational resources and Creatives Commons, etc.
But we are also really excited about the prospect of using various web services (Web 2.0) and social media in order to promote more effective communication with our audience and partners. These are just some of the activities, with other new collaborations gradually emerging, for instance with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the University of Sydney. We will talk more on this later.

by Brendan Barrett on January 9, 2008 - Comments (00)  

Award for Saving the Ayuquila River

Ayuquila for blog-3.jpgThe UNU Media Studio is pleased to announce that the documentary and e-case study entitled “Saving the Ayuquila River” has received the 2007 Award of Excellence in the education division of the Society for New Communications Research Awards programme.
The Society honors innovative individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and media outlets for the use of social media, ICT, mobile media, online communities, virtual worlds and collaborative technologies in the areas of media, marketing, public relations, advertising, entertainment, education, politics and social initiatives.
The Saving the Ayuquila River video documentary and e-case study was developed by the UNU Media Studio in collaboration with the University of Guadalajara, Mexico and illustrates how scientists can work in local communities to bring about positive environmental changes.

by Brendan Barrett on November 13, 2009 - Comments (00)  

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