The DEKRA-REKLIM Media Project

An interdisciplinary and interactive media project by and for young people on the topic of ’regional climate changes’

With this media project, the Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIM and DEKRA University of Applied Sciences in Berlin explored a new approach to familiarising young people with the topic of regional climate changes and piquing their interest in researchers’ work. At the same time, it offered the researchers a unique chance to collaborate with young people on the creative interpretation of their research interests, and to practise conveying the key messages of their work to interested members of the public.

The Participants

The REKLIM media project 2014 was a joint endeavour of the Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIM and DEKRA University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. One of its most unique aspects was the simultaneous participation of all three relevant degree programmes at the DEKRA University of Applied Sciences, and their integration into the project’s implementation. All told, more than 80 students, four university instructors, two online journalists, and seven researchers from the REKLIM network (as coaches), as well as the Coordinating Office of the Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIM and the Climate Office for Polar Regions and Sea Level Rise were involved in making the REKLIM media project a reality.

The Concept

Climate change is one of the most important future topics and fields of action in our civil society, with far-reaching consequences and regional impacts. The young people of today are who will be most severely affected by the future effects of climate change. At the same time, they are called upon to recognise that we have to find other lifestyles and deploy prevention and adaptation strategies now, as such measures only very gradually bear fruit. Many young people still lack sufficient experience to view climate protection and adaptation measures as important building blocks for their own future, and to actively concern themselves with the topic. Accordingly, it is essential that they address this immense societal challenge intensively, and come to see it as part of their own lifeworld early on. The media project’s target group was young people of school and university age (16-30 years old).

In 2013, the Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIM and DEKRA University of Applied Sciences in Berlin pooled their resources to kick off the process of increasing young peoples’ awareness of regional climate changes’ importance in the form of a joint interdisciplinary project.

To implement their plan, the two parties chose the international REKLIM conference ’Our Climate – Our Future: Regional Perspectives on a Global Challenge’, which was held from 6 to 9 October 2014 in Berlin. The accompanying media project combined the expertise of both partners in order to allow the topic of ’regional climate changes’ to be addressed by young people, for young people, and to reach this group with the help of modern media and using their own language.

With self-planned and self-produced media products (e.g. a blog, several documentary films, viral videos and daily coverage), the goal was to make the regional aspects of climate change investigated by the Helmholtz Climate Initiative REKLIM accessible to the public.

The students were given the important task of transforming the scientific content into an artistic, journalistic and ’young’ language, of considering the problems discussed from an unbiased perspective, and of integrating the researchers into their efforts. The result: important dialogues and learning processes between the different disciplines involved.

In addition, the collaboration offered the participating REKLIM researchers and centres a unique chance to create a different audience for the conference.

Goals of the REKLIM Media Project

The REKLIM media project was intended to: 

  • offer an interdisciplinary and interactive project that encouraged young people to address climate change, that raised awareness of regional climate changes’ importance, and that used the students’ media products to build a bridge between the REKLIM network’s research and a broad audience,
  • initiate a dialogue process between researchers and students, use artistic and media-based transfer processes to make scientific content accessible and appealing for a broad audience, and especially to sensitise young people to the issue of climate change and its regional consequences,
  • foster a dialogue and mutual learning process between the various disciplines.

The Implementation

The concrete implementation of the REKLIM media project began in September 2013, and culminated in the international REKLIM conference in October 2014. Making the project a reality involved the close collaboration and interaction of the researchers and students. In this regard, one major challenge lay in bringing together the diverse groups (the researchers, and students from three different degree programmes) and piquing their interest in the topics to be covered; after all, the project was embedded in the curriculum via seminars, but essentially remained a voluntary project. With regard to the researchers, the challenge lay in teaming up with representatives of disciplines outside the natural sciences in order to implement a project involving their own ’pet’ research topics. But it was precisely this tension that provided the potential and the driving force behind the project. 

Outcomes of the collaboration:

More information on the outcomes of the collaboration: please see right column on this page.

The entire project, complete with all media products, can be found at the project website: