"At least somebody gets it.”
That somebody, according to a November 2009 article published on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website, is UM’s School of Journalism, which recently launched its new graduate degree program in environmental science and natural resources journalism. The article emphasized the need to train journalists in the field—and the lack of distinguished programs to do so—reinforcing the school’s decision to revamp its graduate program and narrow the focus to issues of increasing economic and political importance.
The new degree will fulfill what journalism faculty call a “growing need for versatile storytellers knowledgeable about energy policy, climate change and conservation issues.”
The first UM classes will begin fall semester 2010, and students will prepare for careers through practical training in print, photo, broadcast and online media. They also will take courses in the hard sciences, ethics and law, among others.
“To effectively communicate environmental science and natural resource issues to the general public is one of the most important challenges for journalists and scientists today,” says program director Henriette Lowisch. “The new program fits seamlessly into the University’s cross-disciplinary focus on those issues and capitalizes on faculty expertise across campus.”
As part of their multidisciplinary training, students will produce print and photo stories, multimedia projects, Web and broadcast documentaries that address global as well as regional issues such as wilderness policy, environmental health, endangered species, forestry and mining practices, and the management of public lands, climate change and natural resources.
The school received numerous applications before the Feb. 15 deadline, and in April selected the 10 who will make up its first class, Lowisch says.
“They are a highly talented and diverse group with different strengths,” she says. “Some have a very strong journalism background; some have a strong background in natural sciences; some come with lots of experience in environmental advocacy.”