Urban oil drilling in Inglewood. | Image by Ty Woodson/KCLS.


UCLA environmental experts featured in PBS sustainability series

art & culture, climate change, environmental justice, law & policy

As climate change and other environmental threats continue to harm and threaten people’s daily lives, the United States remains politically and ideologically divided.

KLCS PBS show “Sustaining US” has partnered with the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to foster earnest discussion — informed by top research and perspectives.

The weekly half-hour program highlights topics related to green buildings and cities, climate change, health care, homelessness and transportation. UCLA faculty, alumni and students represent many of the experts on the program.

Content producer David Colgan said that the focus of the show is to approach environmental issues with science and to present solutions, not fearmongering. Colgan, who is the director of communications at the institute, works with the PBS producers to help identify topics and experts. 

“I get to talk to brilliant people at UCLA, and many of them are great at breaking down issues in a conversational way,” Colgan said. “I want viewers of ‘Sustaining US’ to have that same access.”

Colgan says UCLA’s collaboration in the project began when investigative journalist David Nazar contacted the university for a source on a story about wildfires. During the conversation, both recognized the need for more rigorous news reporting about climate change and sustainability, and realized a partnership between PBS and the nation’s top-ranked public university could help inform and educate viewers.

“What sets ‘Sustaining US’ apart from other news programs is that we don’t just focus on the doom and gloom of environmental issues,” said Nazar, host and reporter of the program. “We bring people from all walks of life together to explore each issue and find solutions.”

KLCS is a multiple Emmy Award–winning, noncommercial PBS affiliate station, broadcasting to more than 15 million viewers in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California. KLCS is licensed to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education, the second-largest school district in the nation, educating more than 673,000 students. Ty Woodson directs and co-produces the program for the station.

The Radio & Television News Association of Southern California awarded “Sustaining US” two Golden Mikes in 2020 for its first season, which went beyond traditional sustainability topics to talk about social issues such as homelessness and technology.

Topics and respective UCLA experts in season two include:

  • The Los Angeles River: Stephanie Pincetl, founding director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA
  • Ancient cities: Monica Smith, professor of anthropology
  • Solar decathlon: UCLA student team
  • Desalination: Zack Gold, alumnus
  • Urban heat islands: Alan Barreca, associate professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and graduate student Edith De Guzman
  • Los Angeles aquarium/high-level discussion of environmental issues: Peter Kareiva, UCLA adjunct professor
  • Culver City oil drilling: David Colgan

Season two premiers Wednesday, Oct. 6, and will air weekly on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. and the following Mondays at 5:30 p.m. Viewers can watch on the following channels in Southern California or livestream on KLCS PBS.

UCLA’s Stephanie Pincetl and David Nazar. | Image by Ty Woodson/KLCS.