We all need energy – and we need it in many forms. Despite this, roughly 1.2 billion people globally live without access to electricity, and about 2.7 billion still use solid fuels – wood, charcoal, coal and dung – for cooking and heating. This results in stark consequences for their health, education and ability to earn a living. According to the UN, the global population will increase from around 7 billion today to nearly 10 billion by 2050, which will significantly increase the global energy demand.

Fred Cook, the director of USC’s Center for Public Relations and the CEO of Golin PR, shared this staggering data as an introduction to a public forum titled, ‘Future of Energy: How do we power a brighter future for people around the globe?’ The forum featured a panel discussion held at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism on Sept. 13.

Cook moderated the panel, which included Don Paul, the executive director of USC’s Energy Institute, Niel Golightly, the VP of energy transition strategy in the U.S. at Shell Oil Co., and Brenna Clairr O’Tierney, an external relations advisor at Shell Oil Co. and an Annenberg alumna, who all spoke about why they pursued an energy career, the diverse array of growth opportunities for soon-to-be-graduates in the midst of the energy transition and the critical need for strong communicators across the industry.

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