On Oct. 27, University of Maryland students and faculty attended an early screening of Before the Flood, a documentary starring Leonardo DiCaprio traveling around the world to gain insight about the impacts of climate change.
Beyond the Classroom was approached by DiCaprio’s film production company, Picture Motion, to host a special screening of this documentary before the 2016 elections, said James Riker, director of Beyond the Classroom. They partnered with the School of Public Policy partnered to host this event in the Hoff Theater in Stamp Student Union at 7 p.m. About 45 people were in attendance.
“The purpose of the screening was to raise awareness about the challenges and threats posed by the global climate crisis, and to empower students to take action on this important global issue,” Riker said. “We are planning a follow-up event for over 20 students, staff and faculty who signed up to participate in a Lobby Day on Capitol Hill for taking action on climate change.”
Promoted by National Geographic, DiCaprio aims to educate viewers about the consequences of climate change by interviewing President Barack Obama and Pope Francis, among other world leaders, as well as scientists, conservationists and environmental activists.
“Climate change is the most fundamental threat facing our planet,” DiCaprio says in the film. “We must work together as a collective voice to demand major action now. Our very survival depends on it. This documentary translates the symptoms and solutions of climate change before information is distorted, as it often is, by those with a financial interest in fossil fuel production.”
The School of Public Policy has been very focused on climate action in the last six months, hosting the Climate Action Forum and Summit as well as launching the Center for Global Sustainability in March.
Dean Robert Orr of the School of Public Policy said during the panel discussion after the screening that this university has the propensity to accelerate the rate of change through activism.
“We’ve got to get to hearts as well as heads… I see a lot of great student activists on this campus,” Orr said. “We have to walk the walk, and we have to know what that walk is.”
Orr also mentioned the repercussions of election season on climate action, encouraging audience members to vote for candidate who will do something about this massive issue.
“We need political pressure. Every election in your lives is a climate change election.”