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Let’s Talk About Water

Using Film for Earth Science Education
 

Researchers involved with the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI), have developed a formula for using documentaries and popular films to promote water and earth science education. "Let's Talk About Water" (LTAW) is a film symposium designed to bring together experts and the public to talk about the complex water issues facing society. The format of the event is quite simple: a panel of experts and the audience view a water documentary (such as "FLOW," "Liquid Assets," or "Gasland") together and there is an extended moderated discussion period following the film between the panel and the audience. Properly handled, this simple format can be very effective. A film creates a context of subject and language for the discussion--it gets the audience and the panel on the same page. The moderators must actively manage the discussion, both challenging the panelists with follow up questions, asking questions to simplify the language the expert is using, and passing a question among panelists to bring out different points of view. The panelists are provided with the film in advance to view and, most importantly, meet the day before the event to discuss the film. This makes for a much more convivial discussion at the event. We have found that these discussions can easily be sustained for 90 to 120 minutes with active audience participation.
 
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A 2011 EOS article describes the general formula we have used for these events. This page provides information on our past events, current activities and information, and options and resources for organizing a Let's Talk About Water event of your own.water issues facing society. The format of the event is quite simple: a panel of experts and the audience view a water documentary (such as "FLOW," "Liquid Assets," or "Gasland") together and there is an extended moderated discussion period following the film between the panel and the audience. Properly handled, this simple format can be very effective. A film creates a context of subject and language for the discussion--it gets the audience and the panel on the same page. The moderators must actively manage the discussion, both challenging the panelists with follow up questions, asking questions to simplify the language the expert is using, and passing a question among panelists to bring out different points of view. The panelists are provided with the film in advance to view and, most importantly, meet the day before the event to discuss the film. This makes for a much more convivial discussion at the event. We have found that these discussions can easily be sustained for 90 to 120 minutes with active audience participation.
 
CUAHSI can help facilitate these events but does not have regular funding available to support holding them. The average cost of past events has ranged between $6,000 and $10,000. Organizers often work with their university, other universities in their area, student groups, and other sources (foundations, sponsors, etc.) to hold these events.

 
Let's Talk About Water 
Event Archive
CUAHSI-organized events

More Information about Let's Talk About Water
 
    
      
 
Creative consultant and Program Director Linda Lilienfeld's Let's Talk About Water website, access to a library of films, and past university and community events 2011 EOS article detailing the
 "LTAW" formula