The Three Cultures Solution: Is Comedy the Gateway to Youth Engagement?



At the "three cultures summit" this past weekend in Oregon, I had the opportunity to meet Hank Green, creator of the immensely popular EcoGeek blog and YouTube auteur of the successful Vlogbrothers series.

Hank's creative work raises the question I posed at this blog last year. Specifically, on science and environment, is comedy and irony the new gateway to public engagement, especially among young audiences?

Consider, for example, that Hank's video above, a comedic and philosophical skit on the trade-offs in eating meat, has been commented on at YouTube more than 2800 times over the past week and ranks as the number # 1 most discussed and viewed clip in the "Nonprofit & activism" community at YouTube.

The potential for comedy and irony to be used in public engagement efforts on science and the environment, especially around questions of civic participation and learning, is a research question that my colleague Lauren Feldman and I have things in the works to explore. We hope to be reporting back with some key announcements, findings and conclusions in coming months.

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