Education: Environmental journalism programs and courses

Individuals who are interested in studying environmental journalism may choose from the following list of communications programs and courses offered by American universities.

  • Antioch University New England publishes annually Whole Terrain, a nationally renowned journal which explores emerging ecological and social issues from the perspective of practitioners. Each issue's specific theme examines the relationship between an evocative social topic and the environment, attracting renowned writers widely recognized for their contributions to nature literacy and environmental awareness as well as novice authors with unique perspectives to offer. The journal is distributed to an extensive national network. Whole Terrain internships and work-study positions offer hands-on publishing experience to students interested in writing, editing, and marketing. Inquire via email or contact Chair of the Editorial Board, Rowland Russell,(603) 283-2377.

  • Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI) is offering a one-year certificate program on writing about innovation and sustainability, scheduled to begin fall of 2008 in the Seattle area. The program focuses on communicating with general audiences about new technologies for socially responsible and environmentally sustainable practices. Applications for the program are now being accepted. The course of study is geared for students who are considering a one-year program in science writing or technical communication and who want to gain news writing skills while developing a special focus on innovative technologies, environmental issues, and sustainable business practices. Courses cover news, feature, and creative nonfiction writing along with an internship experience and portfolio project. Students may apply for the year-long program or they may enroll for individual courses on a space-available basis. For more information about the writing program, contact Deborah Illman, (206) 523-7218.

  • Boston University's Center for Science and Medical Journalism offers a master's degree in science journalism in which environmental reporting plays a critically important part. For more information, contact the program coordinator, Maureen Clark, (617) 353-4239.

  • The Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley offers classes in environmental journalism. Contact Orville Schell, (510) 642-5492.

  • California State University, Northridge's Department of Journalism offers a course in environmental reporting for seniors and graduate students. Contact Lawrence Schneider, (818) 677-3135.

  • Central Michigan University's Journalism Department offers a course in environmental journalism, Science and Environmental Reporting. This course is taught on an occasional basis; next offering is in spring 2002. Contact John Palen, (989) 774-7874.

  • Clarkson University offers a bachelor's degree in Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science and Policy, Industrial Hygiene-Environmental Toxicology, and Technical Communications. Contact Bill Karis, (315) 268-6484 or Clarkson University (800) 527-6577.

  • The University of Colorado at Boulder's Center for Environmental Journalism offers an M.A. in environmental journalism. In addition, the university's School of Journalism and Mass Communication is home to the Ted Scripps Fellowships in Environmental Journalism. Contact Len Ackland, (303) 492-0459.

  • Colorado State University's Department of Journalism and Technical Communication offers an undergraduate and graduate course in environmental journalism. Contact Kathy Reese, Program Assistant, (970) 491-3003 or Garrett O'Keefe, Chair, (970) 491-6310.

  • Columbia University's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism cooperate in offering a dual master's degree program in Earth & Environmental Science Journalism (E&ESJ). The goal of the program is to train graduates who have both the scientific background and the communications skills to inform the public about discoveries, processes, insights, and controversies in earth and environmental sciences, in a manner that is simultaneously interesting and accurate. Hands-on training in broadcast and new media journalism is available, as well as traditional print journalism. Graduates receive an M.S. in Journalism plus an M.A. in Earth and Environmental Science. Contact Kim Kastens, (845) 365-8836, or Marguerite Holloway, (212) 854-9194.

    In addition, the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University offers a one-year Master of Arts degree program with a specialization in science journalism. The 9-month M.A. program is designed for experienced journalists with a proven mastery of journalistic skills, as demonstrated by his or her writing, resume or academic career. The course of study in the science concentration covers: in physics, the importance of scale and relativity; in the earth sciences, how systems work; medicine and health; the processes of innovation and discovery and history of science. Generous tuition scholarships funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are available for the 2009-10 academic year. Deadline to apply: January 12, 2009. Contact Monica Burnette, Assistant Director, Admissions & Financial Aid, (212) 854-6344.

  • Cornell University's Department of Communication offers opportunities for undergraduates and graduates in environmental, science and health communication through several courses. Jim Shanahan, who teaches Communication and the Environment, said "The Department of Communication at Cornell looks at environmental issues from a variety of perspectives. Our approach emphasizes a theoretical grounding in communication theory, applied to practical problem solving for environmental and scientific issues." The concentration includes courses in the communication process, applications, science and environmental communication, and introductory and advanced environmental science and policy. Contact Jim Shanahan, (607) 255-8058.

  • The George Washington University Green University Initiative's course catalogue contains more than 175 multi-disciplinary, undergraduate and graduate courses with an environmental focus. The program is a multi-school and multi-department effort to advance environmental values and practices through research, curricula, operations, and outreach. Contact Mark Starik, (202) 994-5621.

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Department of Human and Community Development offers an Agricultural and Environmental Communications and Education concentration, with environmental topics as one of the focus areas, within the Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Communications program. Contact Dr. Gerald Walter, (217) 333-9429.

  • Indiana University's School of Journalism offers a joint graduate degree with the university's School of Public & Environmental Affairs. Students earn a dual Master of Arts and Master of Science in Environmental Science. Contact Glenda Ketcham, (812) 855-1701.

  • Lehigh University's Science and Environmental Writing Program offers a B.A. in Journalism/Science Writing. The program is interdisciplinary, requiring a minimum of four courses in science or engineering plus a core set of journalism courses and four courses in science and environmental journalism. Contact Sharon Friedman, (610) 758-4179.

  • Marquette University's College of Communication offers a graduate course (Journalism 173) in "Science, Health and Environmental Communication." The course is for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. A master's-level specialization in "Science, Health and Environmental Communication" is also available. This specialization provides master of arts students with the theory, research and fundamental professional knowledge needed to (1) understand the processes, roles and effects of communicating about science, health and the environment interpersonally, in organizations and in society, and (2) to apply this understanding to the task of communicating technical, specialized information to a variety of audiences, especially non-expert, lay audiences. Contact Bob Griffin, (414) 288-6787.

  • Michigan State University, home of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, offers courses in environmental journalism at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students may earn bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in journalism or mass media with a specialty in environmental journalism. Among the specialized courses offered are environmental reporting, health and science writing, investigative reporting, nature reporting and computer-assisted reporting, as well as seminars in specialized topics, such as reporting about land use issues, wilderness issues and current controversies in environmental, health and science journalism. A specialized master's degree program in environmental journalism, launched in the fall of 2007, is offered by the MSU School of Journalism. The new program includes courses in environmental reporting, environmental science and policy and an internship in science and environmental journalism. The admissions deadline for fall 2009 is February 1, 2009. A number of graduate assistantships and scholarships will be awarded to members of the incoming class. The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism will offer assistantships to students who can help design and edit EJ, the Knight Center's award-winning magazine; assist in developing a television program on the environment; and other Knight Center projects.

    The center is the home of the Meeman Archives, a collection of more than 10,000 newspaper articles on environmental topics; and a library of 2,500 books, videotapes and audiotapes dealing with environmental and environmental journalism topics. The center's faculty, staff and students publish a magazine, EJ; an electronic newsletter, EJ Update; resource guides in environmental journalism; videotapes; and moderates listservs for environmental journalism students and educators and for Mexican environmental journalists. The center also conducts research on environmental journalism.

    The center is directed by Jim Detjen, a former award-winning environmental reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer who holds the Knight Chair in Journalism. The assistant director is Dave Poulson, a former environmental reporter for Booth Newspapers. The center organizes an annual week-long training environmental journalism training institute; shorter workshops on nature photography, covering urban sprawl and computer-assisted reporting; and brings many prominent speakers and environmental experts to campus. The Knight Center organized the 10th annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists held on the MSU campus in October 2000. The center has also organized workshops on environmental journalism in Russia, China, Mexico, South Africa, England and many other countries. Contact Jim Detjen, (517) 353-9479; Dave Poulson, (517) 432-5417; or Barb Miller, assistant to the Knight Chair, (517) 432-1415.

  • In September 2003, the University of Minnesota began offering a Master of Arts in Health Journalism. This unique new program, intended for journalists or public health professionals, includes one course on environmental health issues, and can be completed in only 12 months. The public health professionals take mostly journalism courses and the journalists take mostly public health courses. In addition, they take some courses in common. The University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication and its School of Public Health provide rich resources for this program, not to mention the Association of Health Care Journalists, which is also located in the Journalism school. Contact Melinda Voss, (612) 624-8877.

  • University of Missouri-Columbia's School of Journalism offers a Masters of Arts in environmental reporting within its schools of journalism and natural resources. This program requires a sequence of courses in basic journalism, science writing, investigative reporting, and environmental writing — as well as natural resources science. The goal is to provide students with a background in both the science that underlies environmental issues and in news media studies, writing, and reporting. The combined program gives students the option to do an M.A. thesis or a professional project. All students also receive commercial daily newspaper or television experience. Contact Rob Logan, (573) 882-4714.

  • The University of Montana's School of Journalism offers one graduate environmental journalism course per year, and hopes to develop more courses with its environmental studies and biology programs. Contact Clemens Work, (406) 243-2160.

  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources offers a Bachelors of Science in agricultural journalism. Contact Jim Randall, (402) 472-3035.

  • University of Nevada, Reno began offering a three-semester Interactive Environmental Journalism M.A. program in 2006. The program, at the Reynolds School of Journalism, is for students who have a journalism degree and/or experience in professional journalism and who want to help invent the next forms of journalism. Application deadline for fall 2009: March 16, 2009. Contact Donica Mensing, (775) 784-4198.

  • New York University's Department of Journalism offers a 16-month program in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting. Founded in 1982, SHERP is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country. (The program was known as 'SERP' until 2006, when the 'H' was added to acknowledge the program's longtime focus on health reporting.) The small group (typically 12-15) of admitted students takes a cohesive curriculum that includes courses in print and broadcast reporting (including online), writing workshop, press ethics, current topics in science, science writing, medical writing and environmental reporting as well as professional internships. Leading journalists who cover science, medical and environmental beats in the New York area serve as instructors and guest lecturers. Admission is highly competitive; an undergraduate or graduate degree in science is helpful but not essential. Graduates receive an M.A. in journalism and a certificate in science and environmental reporting. Contact Director Bill Burrows, or Associate Director Dan Fagin, (212) 998-7970.

  • Northern Arizona University's Journalism Program offers an emphasis in environmental communication for the bachelor of science degree in journalism. Courses in environmental communication include: 1) Environmental Communication; 2) Environmental Perspectives on Communication Arts; and 3) Environmental Research and Reporting. Opportunities for internships in the areas of environmental communication and environmental journalism are also available. Contact Lea J. Parker, (928) 523-4661.

  • Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism offers a graduate course in medical, science and environmental reporting. Students take a companion seminar that includes a hands-on laboratory experience and may also cover related beats in other Medill graduate courses. Contact Donna Leff, (312) 503-0768.

  • Annenberg's School of Journalism at the University of Southern California will again offer a unique 10-month M.A. program in specialized journalism, beginning Summer 2009, for mid-career journalists. Students may receive training and an advanced degree in any one of five specialized topics: science, religion, immigration, education and urban ecology. In addition to the journalism classes taught at USC Annenberg, students will take courses with faculty from USC's other highly regarded academic units, including the Rossier School of Education, School of Policy, Planning and Development, and College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Applications will be accepted January 2-March 2, 2009. Contact Michael Parks, (213) 740 0638.

  • University of Tennessee's School of Journalism and Electronic Media offers a Science Communication Program composed of five courses — environmental writing, science and medical writing, science writing as literature, risk communication, and health communication. All five courses can be taken for graduate or undergraduate credit and can provide a concentration for a B.S., M.S, or Ph.D. degree. Contact Mark Littmann, (865) 974-8156.

  • Texas A&M University offers an M.S. degree in science and technology journalism. Students select courses in both science and science journalism. Contact Barbara Gastel, (979) 845-6887.

  • Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University is one of the oldest environmental journalism programs in the United States where students earn an undergraduate degree in Environmental Journalism. Contact Kathy Johnson, (360) 650-2817.

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Journalism and Mass Communication offers a professional master's degree that allows individuals to construct their own science or environmental communication programs. The school also offers both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees for those interested in scholarship training. Contact Sharon Dunwoody, (608) 263-3389.

The Directory of Science Communication Courses and Programs, an ongoing project of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a searchable database of university science communication offerings, from physics to biology to the social sciences to environmental sciences to medicine and health.

The Society of Environmental Journalists
P.O. Box 2492 Jenkintown, PA 19046
Telephone: (215) 884-8174 Fax: (215) 884-8175

© 1994 Society of Environmental Journalists
The SEJ logo is a registered trademark ® of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Neither the logo nor anything else from the domain may be reproduced without written consent of the Society of Environmental Journalists.