The Pulitzer Center has selected the recipients of its 2023 Impact Seed Fund (ISF), a microgrant designed to enrich the perspectives of university educators as they engage students in better understanding critical issues related to rainforests, climate change, and labor rights, inspired by Pulitzer Center-supported journalism.
Through the ISF grants, the Pulitzer Center is dedicated to bridging the information gap on some of the world’s most pressing challenges in academia and bringing real-world journalistic insights to the educational environment. We bring together university students, lecturers, and local communities to explore underreported perspectives and ignite action.
Fourteen ISF projects across Southeast Asia, the Amazon, South Asia, and Africa will drive innovative student and community engagement initiatives over the next four months.
Inspired by reporting from the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Investigations Network, Rainforest Journalism Fund, and Our/Work Environment initiatives, the projects will engage local communities and university students in forest and climate protection efforts, immerse students in real-world issues surrounding various commodities—like cocoa and palm oil—and explore the impact of climate change on workers’ health and coastal communities. University educators will employ various methodologies unique to their disciplines, including social cartography and problem-based learning, and produce mini documentaries and podcasts to extend the reach of these projects.
“The Impact Seed Funding (ISF) is all about stimulating powerful discussions and sparking action in the education community, driven by the journalistic stories we support at the Pulitzer Center,” said Flora Pereira, the Pulitzer Center’s chief engagement and education officer. “From Indonesia to Brazil, Malawi to Colombia, ISF initiatives demonstrate creative engagement that intertwines journalism with academic approaches, making complex issues relevant to university students and inspiring them to take action as the next generation of changemakers.”
This year, the ISF selection committee received 134 applications from 14 countries. Applicants underwent a three-stage selection process, assessing project strength, team capacity, financial proposal, and alignment with the Pulitzer Center’s mission and goals. The final stage included a panel interview to ensure commitment to project success.
“In academia, the collaboration between the Pulitzer Center’s ISF and scholars plays a pivotal role. I deeply appreciate how ISF bridges journalistic reporting with academic research on deforestation issues. Our joint efforts empower us to develop informed narratives, spark discussion, and share local perspectives within the urban academic community,” said Ardhitya Eduard Yeremia, assistant professor in the International Relations Department and lead applicant from Universitas Indonesia. Inspired by the Pulitzer Center-supported project Fueling Deforestation Through Fake Green Fuel, Yeremia, along with a team of students and lecturers, will travel to a remote area in Sintang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia, to understand the experience of workers in palm oil plantations and engage with the local government to discuss transparency on sustainable palm oil policy.
“We view the ISF Fund as a pioneering initiative and an excellent opportunity to give visibility to the impacts of climate change on cocoa farmers in Brazil,” said Fabio dos Santos, chemistry professor and lead applicant from Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA). Inspired by a journalistic reporting series on Indian farmers’ struggles against climate change, dos Santos pursued the ISF grant “to draw attention to the challenges faced by these farmers and to encourage the local press, schools, universities, NGOs, companies, governments, and civil society to address this issue and transition from greenwashing to environmental and social governance in the cocoa chain.”
The ISF grant is made possible with the generous support of Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) and the Laudes Foundation.
The next Impact Seed Fund (ISF) opportunity will be launched in 2024. Please follow our social media channels for more updates! Instagram X/Twitter Facebook Thread
The 2023 Impact Seed Fund (ISF) projects are:
- Amplifying Knowledge About Cocoa Production (Fabio dos Santos, Universidade Federal da Bahia). Inspired by “Indian Farmers Are Already Paying the Price for Climate Change” by Bhasker Tripathi.
- Giving Voice to Fisherwomen at Ilha de Deus (Gilberto Rodrigues and Janaina Vital, Federal University of Pernambuco). Inspired by “'It’s Not for the Faint-Hearted’: The Story of India’s Intrepid Women Seaweed Divers” by Kamala Thiagarajan.
- Interchanges Between Borders: Using Chico Mendes’s Story To Discuss Social and Environmental Issues With Students (USP, Emancipa University and Comitê Chico Mendes). Inspired by ‘Voices of the Forest’ by Thiago Mendonça.
- Building Knowledge and School Material From Quilombola Experiences (UFPA and Fundação Malungu). Inspired by “A pandemia e os conflitos no território Jambuaçu, no Pará” by Adriana Abreu, Cícero Pedrosa Neto, Sam Schramski.
- The School as a Trainer of Small Ecologists (Instituto Juruá/UEA). Inspired by “A vida numa reserva extrativista na Floresta Amazônica” by Bruno Kelly and Nádia Pontes.
- Enhancing Conservation Areas Through Community Involvement in the Buffer Area of Mount Gede National Park (Nurul Winarni, Universitas Indonesia). Inspired by Villages in the Buffer Zone Area of Kerinci Seblat National Park Maintain Conservation Area by Joni Aswira Putra.
- Sustainable Entrepreneurship Education Project Engaging Business School Students, Entrepreneurs, and Farmers (Imanda Dea Sabiella, Bina Nusantara University). Inspired by Planting Coffee, Maintaining Sustainability at Batang Gadis National Park by Prayugo Utomo.
- From Immersion to Action: Connecting Traditional Community’s Perspectives With Academic Discussion on Deforestation (Ardhitya Eduard Yeremia, Universitas Indonesia). Inspired by Fueling Deforestation Through Fake Green Fuel by Stefano Valentino, Dionisius Reynaldo Triwibowo (Aldo), and Dina Febriastuti.
- Cultural Changes in Food Patterns: Gastro-Colonialism in Merauke, South Papua (Sri Hanifah, Universitas Musamus Merauke). Inspired by Hungry People at Merauke Food Estate by Ahmad Arif, Agus Susanto, and Saiful Rijal Yunus.
- Increasing Awareness of the Impact of Climate Change on Workers’ Health Through Problem-Based Learning and Teaching Methods (Jani Jasfin, Universitas Airlangga). Inspired by “Extreme Heat Is Endangering America's Workers—and Its Economy” by Aryn Baker.
- Workshop: Reporting Climate and Labor for Journalism Students (Samiaji Bintang, Universitas Multimedia Nusantara). Inspired by “The Rise and Fall of a Commercial Seaweed—and a Community’s Fortunes With It” by Monika Mondal.
- Along We Came: Rainforest and Cultural Heritage in Colombia (Manuel Enrique Sevilla Peñuela, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana). Inspired by “Halmahera Then and Now: Palm Oil Grows, Cockatoos Disappear” by Budi Nurgianto.
- Applying Local Knowledge and Modern Sciences in Tackling Climate Change Consequences in the Agriculture Sector in Malawi (Ian Saini, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural). Inspired by “Climate Change Forces Major Lifestyle Changes High in the Himalayan Mountains” by Fred de Sam Lazaro.
- Impact of Climate Change on Fishing Communities on Manchar Lake, Sindh, Pakistan (Abeera Ansari, National University of Sciences and Technology/NUST). Inspired by “'It’s Not for the Faint-Hearted’: The Story of India’s Intrepid Women Seaweed Divers” by Kamala Thiagarajan.
Image caption: Thangamma, about 80 years old, gathers seaweed off Pananthoppu beach, Pamban island, Tamil Nadu, India. Seaweed extracts are used in a booming global food industry. An estimated 5,000 women gather seaweed in the shallow reefs around Pamban island, which they sell to local factories. Image by Anushree Bhatter/NPR. India, 2023. From “'It’s Not for the Faint-Hearted’: The Story of India’s Intrepid Women Seaweed Divers” by Kamala Thiagarajan.