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Environmentalist Emphasizes Role of Media

By Renwick M. Wilson, Crimson Staff Writer

Environmental conservationist Philippe Cousteau, Jr. reflected on his family history and the changing role the media has played in spreading the environmental movement this Tuesday for the 2016 Lowell Lecture.

The talk, titled “A Legacy of Hope and Solutions for the 21st Century,” was organized by the Harvard Extension School and the Lowell Institute of Boston.

Historically, the Lowell Lecture has been an annual event that highlights major societal problems.

“We wanted to bring Philippe in because he utilizes multiple different platforms, and each one reaches a different group,” George D. Buckley, the assistant director of sustainability at the Harvard Extension School, said.

Cousteau, Jr. comes from a long line of conservationists. His father, Philippe Cousteau, was a documentary filmmaker and oceanographer. His grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, was a marine conservationist who co-developed the SCUBA.

“I think we know right now that our oceans are in great danger, and there is no family on Earth who has brought these issues to our attention like the Cousteau family,” said Huntington D. Lambert, dean of the Division of Continuing Education and University Extension at Harvard.

“When I think of my grandfather, and this really is the theme of the evening, I think of him as a problem solver,” Cousteau, Jr. said. “The legacies of the Cousteaus are as problem solvers.”

Utilizing numerous video clips of past documentaries and news stories, Cousteau Jr. stressed how new forms of media can reach untapped audiences.

“The challenge for us is how do we grow our audience,” Cousteau, Jr. said. “I fault many of the folks in the environmental movement for preaching to the converted.”

To cap off the evening, Cousteau, Jr. brought up a new avenue that he has lately explored: impact investing.

Impact investing is a form of investing that focuses on companies that generate a positive social or environmental impact.

“People have to be part of the equation, we have to think differently and be willing to challenge the status quo, especially with regards to sustainability,” Cousteau, Jr. said.

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