Earth Journalism (APA4249.01)

Mark Schapiro

Living as we do in the era of the Anthropocene, in which human activities are the main force reshaping our planet, it has become increasingly important to communicate and improve public understanding of global environmental challenges. These include the transformative impacts of climate change, the loss of biodiversity, the vulnerability of food systems, the health impacts of toxic
exposures, and much more. But reporting on these topics, which often play out slowly and lack obvious news hooks, can be a challenge. The aim of this course is to introduce you to environmental reporting and research, and sharpen your story- telling abilities to communicate your findings.

This short course aims to strengthen your ability to identify what constitutes an environmental ‘story’. The course will introduce you to some of the basic science underpinning what’s at stake in ecological systems and why their degradation matters. We’ll draw ideas and inspiration from readings, lectures, and discussion, and from reporting exercises to sharpen your research skills and writing exercises aimed at developing compelling narrative strategies. We’ll also consider what is known as ‘solutions’-based journalism, applying the same journalistic rigor to assessing responses to environmental challenges as to the challenges themselves.

Students will be expected to bring with them a spirit for constructive engagement with the work of experts in the field and the work of their fellow students. The course will familiarize you with the inter-disciplinary dimensions to environmental journalism, intersecting with the realms of politics, business, science, law, culture; we’ll range from the local to the regional to the national and international. Underlying the course will be the deep questions of equity that surround all environmental stories—who is most likely to be exposed to the impacts of ecological degradation, and who has the greatest access to environmental benefits.

A word on the course title. Earth Journalism suggests the approach of this course: The ‘environment’ is not something out there on the horizon somewhere, but rather is the fabric of ecological connections that sustain all of us, whether we live in the city or the country or in-between. Understanding and communicating those connections will be one of the themes we’ll be pursuing.
This course will be your introduction to thinking like a journalist—skills that are useful whatever the profession you choose.

Learning Outcomes:

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Some experience with writing for the public and an interest in environmental science. Contact David Bond ( for registration.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 2
W 2:10PM - 5:50PM (1st seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 8
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 4000 , All courses , CAPA , First Seven Week , Fully In-Person , Two Credit