Newswise — WASHINGTON—Planet Forward, housed within the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA), announced Thursday the launch of the Planet Forward University Consortium, a partnership with colleges and universities engaged with sustainability. Among the first to join the consortium are Drake University, Middlebury College, Sewanee University of the South, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the University of Arizona, with more to be announced in the coming weeks. Partner institutions will send students to the April 2015 Planet Forward Summit in Washington, D.C., and will provide content for a daily website. Partnering schools will also collaborate on internships and student engagement projects and programs for sustainability. The consortium will be a multimedia, digital storytelling collaborative to give added voice to those working on such issues as food security, water, energy and climate change. It will enable Planet Forward to further its involvement with young people, opinion leaders and innovators to find solutions to the biggest challenges facing the planet. “This is an exciting time for colleges and universities around the country and around the world,” said Frank Sesno, founder of Planet Forward and director of SMPA. “We are delighted to partner with these schools to combine multimedia storytelling with the active engagement of policymakers and students around sustainability, climate change, food security and the host of issues facing our planet.” The new consortium was one of several projects announced at Thursday’s stakeholder meeting. Planet Forward will continue the Feeding the Planet initiative, which has already engaged hundreds of students online and will focus its second year on climate change and food security. Last year’s Feeding the Planet project centered on innovations in food production. Land O’ Lakes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bayer CropScience, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, CropLife International, National Geographic and Elanco supported the project. Land O’Lakes Foundation Executive Director Lydia Botham has committed her company to continue supporting the project in the coming year. Julie Borlaug, associate director of external affairs at the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University, will serve as chair of Planet Forward’s program committee, and Decker Anstrom, noted environmentalist, former president of Landmark Communications and former CEO of The Weather Channel Interactive Inc., will join the Planet Forward advisory board. Additionally, Beth Viola, senior policy advisor at Holland & Knight and co-chair of the firm’s energy and clean technology team, will serve as the new advisory board chair. Leaders also announced that Tara Sonenshine, distinguished fellow in SMPA and former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, will lead the strategic planning and stakeholder relationships with institutional partners for Planet Forward. “I am looking forward to working with such talented and experienced leaders to bring about positive change for global sustainability,” said Ms. Sonenshine. GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs is dedicated to the rigorous study of journalism and political communication with a focus on understanding the impact media have on how societies inform and govern, connect and communicate. As media undergo transformational change, SMPA’s goal is to advance both theoretical insight and innovative practice. SMPA conducts groundbreaking research, offers inspiring teaching, encourages hands-on work in the field and in our production facilities and engages directly with thought-leaders in Washington, D.C., and around the world. Planet ForwardFounded in 2009 and housed within the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, Planet Forward engages young people and innovators in search of solutions to the biggest challenges facing our planet. Through media, teaching and convening, Planet Forward seeks to empower new voices and elevate compelling ideas. -GW-