From animals to humans: An online course to report on zoonotic diseases and their environmental origins

Illicit Endangered Wildlife Trade in Möng La, Shan, Myanmar / Credit: Dan Bennett via Wikimedia Commons. 
Illicit Endangered Wildlife Trade in Möng La, Shan, Myanmar / Credit: Dan Bennett via Wikimedia Commons
Estimated time commitment: 6 hours
Certificate of completion: Yes
Language: English

More than a year since the very beginnings of Covid-19 journalism began to dominate the news cycle, zoonotic diseases continue to be a source of debate, conflict and misinformation worldwide. In response to the need for more information and journalism about this topic, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) created this course for journalists looking to better understand the science behind zoonotic diseases, find available data on the subject and build skills in reporting on such an evolving topic.

The course is self-paced, allowing participants to move at their own speed, and consists of videos and text, with content drawn from the series of webinars EJN has organized on the topic of zoonotic diseases. It has four main modules: 

  • Introduction to Epidemiology;
  • Introduction to Zoonotic Diseases;
  • Preventing, Monitoring and Reacting to Viruses with Pandemic Potential; and
  • Wildlife and Zoonoses.

The course is designed at an introductory level, and the modules explore a wide array of issues. Journalists can hope to learn about the following topics and more:

  • Basic public health and epidemiological concepts; 
  • The basics of zoonotic diseases, including definitions, medical science and history; 
  • Examples of zoonotic diseases and what causes them to emerge, re-emerge and spread; 
  • How the spread of zoonotic diseases is linked to population growth, climate change, wildlife trade and environmental degradation; and
  • How to develop engaging story ideas relating to zoonotic diseases.

At the end of each module, there is a quick review and quiz to gauge understanding. When learners reach the end of the course, they will undergo a final assessment and be able to access a collection of story examples to use as references.

Journalists interested in learning more can also take our complementary tutorial on using data journalism to report on zoonotic diseases.

For journalists who would like to provide feedback to the course or interact with EJN staff and other learners on the topic of zoonotic diseases, a Slack channel has been created to build community and provide a venue for discussion. Participants can request to join here

Enroll now EJN


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