The threat of climate change is the most perilous of our time—especially at the beginning of this new decade, which has been frequently identified as the most crucial for preventing catastrophic consequences. Now, one concerned individual is personally addressing that threat with an inspiring gift of $1.875 million to the University of Victoria in support of the Wayne Crookes Professorship in Environmental and Climate Journalism.
The donation from Vancouver business leader and political activist Wayne Crookes includes both the $1.5 million professorship and a separate $375,000 fund to focus on environmental and climate journalism research and outreach. The new professor—to be appointed later this year within UVic’s Department of Writing—will help mentor the next generation of climate correspondents and writers.
“Wayne Crookes’ support of environmental and climate journalism echoes UVic’s deep conviction to help address the challenges posed by climate change,” says UVic President Kevin Hall. “Extreme weather, melting ice sheets, incessant flooding and other alarming events serve to remind us that we are not only together in this crisis, but also of the urgent need to effectively counter misinformation through the rigour of credible journalism. Actions like Wayne’s will carry us into a better future.”
Wayne Crookes (photo: Martin Roland)
A former federal Green Party campaign manager and political campaigner, Crookes is the owner and founder of West Coast Title Search Ltd. and the founder of Integrity British Columbia. He sees this donation as a way of increasing the quantity, quality, depth and prominence of science-based environmental journalism and media coverage to address the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Action needed now
“This is a very important priority for me,” says Crookes. “We need to communicate more effectively with journalists—especially editors—about the risks of climate change and the threats to biodiversity that humanity as a whole is facing. I believe climate change is an existential threat that the world is not doing enough to meet.”
Crookes’ gift will increase media literacy and coverage by connecting students, journalists, citizens and policymakers through a public database of environmental scientists and climatologists, as well as strengthen UVic’s journalism and publishing program. It will support research and outreach to enable the professorship to catalyze a variety of community-based research projects, advocacy initiatives and educational activities for maximum impact.
“People recognizing the problem is the most important step in it being dealt with and being solved,” Crookes adds. “To do that, public opinion needs to change, and that can most efficiently be changed by increasing—and having a higher quality of—media coverage.”
A commitment to sustainability
“We share Mr. Crookes’ profound commitment to sustainability and believe that training journalists and artists who can communicate in ways that inform, persuade and inspire the public and political leaders is an urgent priority,” says Allana Lindgren, acting dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts. “Environmental journalism is a growing emphasis in UVic’s Department of Writing, and many of our graduates pursue careers investigating and advocating for solutions to global environmental issues.”
As one of Canada’s leading research universities, UVic produces internationally acclaimed research on climate modelling, climate-change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable energy systems and the human dimensions of climate change.
Applications for the new five-year professorship are now open. Information can be found on the Writing department’s website.