Elon team part of press corps for Global South Summit

As official reporters for the Global South Summit in Nashville on Nov. 14, Elon University sophomores Erin Delaney and Bethany Coats used Twitter, Facebook, Wordpress, Hootsuite and Google Docs to spread the word about the world’s food production.

Bethany Coats, far left, Erin Delaney and Associate Professor Michelle Ferrier, center, listen to the luncheon plenary speaker National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins with University of California-Davis faculty and fellows.

World leaders in agribusiness, biotechnology, nutrition, distribution, nongovernmental organizations, government and higher education gathered to figure out how to feed 9 billion people by 2050.

The two are students in the School of Communications and were accompanied by their professor, Associate Professor Michelle Ferrier. At the event, the three were part of the press corps for the event providing liveblogging, social media and reporting for the food-related sessions.

The team reported at sessions with Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer-prize winning columnist at the New York Times and author of The World is Flat and That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back.

The inaugural Global South Summit, hosted by the Cumberland Center at Cumberland University, brought together nearly 300 world leaders from the world’s largest food companies and global foundations, policy experts and scientists to lay consensus on how to feed the world’s population. The Global Food Summit track, hosted by the Sustainable Food Project, is the inaugural conversation around sustainable, nutritious and abundant food supply. They are the presenter of the Sustainable Food Pavilion at the upcoming food-focused Expo Milano 2015.

Researchers estimate that food production will need to increase by 70 percent to meet the world’s burgeoning population by 2050. Experts from industry and academe, supply chain management and plant genetics gathered to exchange solutions for meeting the challenge.

As part of their media writing class, Coats and Delaney learned how to provide the continuous liveblogging coverage. They posted status updates and photos to Facebook. Then the team synthesized notes into stories that were edited and published within hours of each session. Their work can be found on multiple platforms: 

Twitter Hashtag: #globalsouthsummit
Facebook: Global South Summit page
Global South Summit Blog: http://globalsouthsummit.com/blog/

“I liked the intensity of the day,” said Delaney. “We had to practice everything we learned in this fast-paced environment. I liked it.”

Coats agreed. “Everything happened so fast. You would report on a session, take pictures, tweet – then have to write the story before your next session.”

The team produced 11 reports that will be circulated to world leaders in a special edition of the Diplomatic Courier, the official media partner of the event.

Elon parent Cheryl Harrison, director of development and partnerships for the Sustainable Food Project of Expo Milano 2015, contacted Elon to bring a group of fellows to the event. Ferrier was asked because of her online community LocallyGrownNews.com that focuses on local food and food policy. Her students in her media writing class had reported on the Fall Environmental Forum at Elon that was focused on local food this year.

“The summit was a great opportunity for our young communications students to validate the skills they’ve practiced all semester,” said Ferrier. “And to participate in such a high-level conversation about such a critical issue was an honor and a great way to be of service to finding a solution.”

Bethany Coats prepares her camera for the morning session at the Global South Summit.
Erin Delaney is ready to start the morning at the Global South Summit.