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Colombian students’ web series raise awareness on the threats facing coffee farmers

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Jessica Eise, a doctoral student who recently graduated from the Brian Lamb School of Communication, and Nicolás Rojas, a senior at Universidad de La Sabana, interview two coffee farmers in November 2019 in Quindío, Colombia. Eise is co-principal investigator and executive director of the “Uprooted” [Desarraigo] campaign; (Photo provided)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., U.S. — Six students from the Universidad de La Sabana in Colombia and their advisors have partnered with Purdue University researchers to raise awareness of the various threats facing Colombian coffee farmers – from climate change to poverty and the disinterest of young people toward remaining in rural areas.

After a year of research and months of production in 2019, the students premiere “Uprooted” [Desarraigo], a web series that highlights the problems facing the most important emblem of Colombia’s identity and a bastion of its economy: coffee. This innovative digital campaign, designed for social media, underscores that coffee is more than a drink; it is a part of Colombia’s identity and tradition.

The “Uprooted” [Desarraigo] campaign began Monday (July 27) through Facebook and Instagram. To view the entire campaign in advance, visit www.desarraigocafe.com.

“Climate change, coffee prices, absence of youth, lack of institutional support and other challenges are problems faced by the coffee growers every day,” said Jessica Eise, a doctoral student who recently graduated from the Brian Lamb School of Communication. She is co-principal investigator and executive director of the campaign that supported the students in the development of the project. “The goal for the students was to build a campaign that created empathy for the coffee farmers in order to provoke people to take action and remind us that we are all connected, and we need to unite to confront difficult challenges.”

The project is a collaboration between the Universidad de La Sabana and Purdue University, supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of State, with the program Partners of the Americas and the Government of Colombia under the name Nexo Global. The students – Camila Atencio, Vanessa Bernal, Laura Montes, Nicolás Gómez, Mario Isaza and Nicolás Rojas – are all seniors in the Universidad de La Sabana School of Communication specializing in media production with impact in public relations.

The students produced the campaign under difficult circumstances, locked in their houses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but still motivated to work for positive change for their fellow citizens.

“For many, it is just a hot beverage in the morning,” Montes said. “But for them, it is their only vocation and their identity.”

Isaza added, “Climate change is not only a threat to the environment, but also a threat to our identity and our coffee growers.”

The program will continue in the years to come as a collaboration between the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue and the Universidad de La Sabana.

Meet the project team:

  • Executive director and co-principal investigator: Jessica Eise, Purdue University.
  • Executive producer and co-principal investigator: Andrés Forero, assistant professor, Universidad de La Sabana.
  • Academic director and co-principal investigator: Sorin Adam Matei, associate dean of research and graduate education, professor of communication, and Amelia Earhart Media Futures Faculty in Residence, Purdue University College of Liberal Arts.

The students:

  • Creative director: Mario Isaza and Nicolás Gómez, Universidad de La Sabana.
  • Digital strategy, animation and design: Vanessa Bernal, Universidad de La Sabana.
  • Director of content and social media: Camila Atencio, Universidad de La Sabana.
  • Director of research: Laura Montes, Universidad de La Sabana.
  • Data manager: Nicolás Rojas, Universidad de La Sabana.