Summer 2009: Sustainable Efforts

Allison Archer 09C

Allison Archer 09C

Kay Hinton

Student Documentary Makes Prime Time

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By Mary J. Loftus

For her senior honors thesis in journalism, Allison Archer 09C knew she wanted to produce something lasting. “I liked the idea of a documentary, so I could show all the skills I had learned as a multimedia journalist,” she says. “I just had to decide on a subject.”

Archer remembered coming to Emory as a freshman from Sugar Land, Texas, and seeing signs about saving energy, “green” buildings under construction, and other examples of environmental stewardship across campus. The experience inspired her eighteen-minute documentary, Sustainability at Emory: Building Community by Going Green.

She interviewed everyone from fellow students to faculty to the University president, shot B-roll material, and edited it all into a coherent whole. “I really enjoy producing; there are so many layers,” she says.

Facilitated through her internship at CNN.com, Archer’s thesis didn’t only earn high marks academically—it also reached a broader audience when a condensed version aired on the CNN.com website.

“It was the best broadcast work I’ve seen from a student in my more than twenty-plus years of teaching college, and the fact that CNN used the work exactly as she wrote and produced it proves that,” says Kris Wilson, a senior lecturer in the journalism program.

The video highlights Emory’s efforts to maintain more than half its campus as green space, to motivate students to reduce personal energy consumption, and to host farmers markets and create educational gardens—as well as its intention to extend this environmental awareness beyond the campus gates to the broader community.

“I loved how President Wagner said he hopes we lose our designation as the campus with the most LEED-certified buildings—that we don’t want to just be a leader, we are trying to be an example,” Archer says.

For Archer, who has known she wanted to be a journalist since serving as editor of her elementary school newspaper, the documentary is another step toward her career goal of becoming a broadcast journalist and producer. She’s also proud that plans are in the works to show her video to incoming classes at orientation. Mary J. Loftus

“Sustainability is more than just recycling and turning off lights. It’s also an understanding and an appreciation of place, of where you are, and learning its history. That’s what makes you want to sustain and protect.”

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