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How The Right Framing Can Make All The Difference

By Sharon Chen
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Terilyn Chen, an undergraduate at Harvard concentrating in the university’s Environmental Science and Public Policy program, puts it simply: when it comes to environmental issues, “framing is really important and can completely change the way you tackle a problem.” Chen’s approach is to frame environmental issues through animal welfare and rights, and how these policies (or lack thereof) translate into how we think about how we treat other vulnerable populations: people of color, or women in different communities around the world, for example.

Issues of sustainability can be complex and off-putting, but effective framing can go a long way in making these issues more relatable and actionable. For instance, emphasizing the personal benefits of climate action (job growth, or increased health benefits) helps motivate people to take climate action. Similarly, focusing locally on what people know and care about is much more effective than discussing issues that are far-removed and impersonal. For more tips on how to effectively frame the climate change issue and motivate people to take action, please join us on the Path to Positive


Intersections in environmental studies

Victoria Elliott | Harvard University Sustainability | March 9, 2016

Harvard College's Environmental Science and Public Policy (ESPP) Concentration is arguably one of the most diverse fields of study at the college, with a plethora of pathways to choose from or to create on your own. Terilyn Chen, a senior ESPP student from Winthrop House made her own pathway into Aquatic Ecology and Environmental and Animal Law, pulling from almost every corner of ESPP's broad domain. She is currently writing a senior thesis on Animal Law and in this Q&A session, she'll be providing us with a student perspective of the concentration as well as how Harvard has framed her experience and provided her with a perspective on environmental change. 

Victoria Elliot: Hi Terilyn! Tell us a little about yourself and what you do on campus. 

Terilyn Chen: I’m a 21-year-old from the Bay Area who loves animals and writing poetry. I edit for Manifesta Magazine and volunteer with Phillips Brooks House Association’s Pets as Therapy. In my free time, I like to hang out with Walter, the little poodle dog living in Winthrop, and admire my sticker and gel pen collections.

VE: What made you decide to study ESPP, and what do you like about the concentration?

TC: In high school, I was very interested in environmental science (especially the biology aspects), as well as writing and activism. When I got to college, I had a hard time choosing my concentration because I didn’t want to decide between science and the humanities and social sciences. ESPP was perfect because it’s so interdisciplinary and flexible, and that’s still something I love about it now.

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