E-publication features stories by UC Berkeley students from around the world

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Earth Journalism Network, Berkeley, California

“Even though we don’t have enough work or money, the truth is we don’t want them to mine here,” says a young Nahuatl woman in Mexico concerned about water contamination. She was part of a video story about mining protests in Mexico produced by Rachel Witte, a student in the Earth Journalism Scholars program at UC Berkeley.

Helping journalists produce engaging, relevant and accurate local stories based on global environmental issues has been the main goal of the Earth Journalism Scholars program, a partnership between UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.

“Look at my hands. My brother thinks I am crazy to do this, to start a farm and become a farmer,” says Dr. Fernando Funes-Monzote, a renowned agronomist and new farmer in Cuba who aims to demonstrate that farms based on biodiversity and intensive management can thrive in a rapidly changing economy. “If you want to investigate something you have to live it,” he says. His story was researched and written by Adam Calo, also a participant in the program.

Students from the Earth Journalism Scholars program at UC Berkeley produced environmental stories as part of the course, including a story about food sustainability in Nunavut, northern Canada.  (credit: Mark Andrew Boyer)The centerpiece of the program is the semester-long Earth Journalism class on international environmental reporting that is taught by James Fahn and Mark Schapiro. Students have the opportunity to obtain funding by pitching an original story idea and then go on an international reporting trip. For many of the students, it is a career-changing, even life-changing, trip, and many of the stories in the e-publication stem from these trips.

The program also supports a foreign mid-career journalist who has shown interest and skill in covering the environment to attend UC Berkeley for a semester as an Earth Journalism Visiting Scholar.

“The class was an opportunity to take a critical look at the effects of human activity on the planet,” said Rosalia Omungo, television journalist and editor at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and 2014 Earth Journalism Scholar. “The topics covered included climate change, loss of biodiversity, energy, rivers, oceans, climate governance and law. The lessons were also meant to intertwine this knowledge with science and policy. I have learned narrative and story-telling skills, and most importantly, how to apply these skills to the complex issues of science, environmental governance, ecology and policy. I also learned how to pitch stories.”

The topics covered by the students during the 2014 semester also included threats to the Great Barrier Reef, food issues such as farmed salmon in Chile and the dwindling caribou population in Canada, and the possibilities of energy's new future in the US.

The Earth Journalism Scholars program is funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation and the Kendeda Fund.

See all the stories in this e-magazine article: Think globally, report locally.

Stories Produced