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Speaker discusses raising societal impact

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Aaron Arellano
Staff Writer

Paul Steinberg, associate professor of political science and environmental policy at Harvey Mudd College, discussed two business models he developed over the course of his career that can help students increase the societal impact of their ideas Wednesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room.

Steinburg called the first model influencing the influencers, meaning to influence the elite experts and policy makers of society.

However, he warned students that doing this alone will make it more tough to accomplish.

“Find an organization,” Steinberg said. “Find one that is deeply committed to your idea and will devote resources to it over a period of time.”

Steinberg has teamed up with many national and international organizations, such as the World Bank and RARE Conservation, to bring about environmental change in developing countries.

These organizations are common with lobbying policy-makers to bring about change to social and environmental issues.

The second and more familiar business model developed by Steinberg is what he calls directly reaching the public.

“I teamed up with animation and film students to create social media campaigns in order to directly influence the general public,” said Steinberg.

Steinburg used grants given to him by the organizations he teamed up with for more marketing purposes.

In 2013, Steinberg collaborated with film students from Harvey Mudd College to create a 10-minute animated short film that explores the risks of climate change, titled “Who Rules the Earth.”

Steinberg said he noticed a powerful impact from this campaign due to the support and awards the short film had received.

This brought more attention to RARE Conservation, which lead to increased support for its cause.

Yulissa Chavez, a freshman political science major, took away more than just owning an ambitious mindset and having a better understanding of the technological aspect of being successful from Steinberg.

“It just goes to show how working with groups creates a sort of ripple effect that will get real work done,” Chavez said.

Allyson Brantley, assistant professor of history, asked if it is possible for students to achieve social change without financial support from institutions.

“When you’re collaborating with students, you can do a fair amount with a few thousand dollars because students aren’t paid in the first place,” Steinberg said.

However, if no money is available, Steinberg encourages people to find similar interests with whoever is involved in order to work effectively together toward the similar goal.

He credits working with the students who, although awarded relatively small amounts of money to work on his projects, still put in a lot of effort.

Freshman political science major Matthew Ball was surprised to learn that money is not always the root cause for social change.

“I think it’s cool that although some money is used, it’s not always lobbying that gets work done,” Ball said.

“Working with other groups of people seemed, at least to me, the real driving force of getting the job done,” he added.

Aaron Arellano can be reached at

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