From Microbes to Rainforests: An Introductory Biodiversity Course for Journalists

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From Microbes to Rainforests: An Introductory Biodiversity Course for Journalists
Estimated time commitment: 8 hours
Certificate of completion: Yes
Language: English

Stunning wildlife and pretty flowers. That's biodiversity, isn't it? It's actually much more—and much more relevant to all types of journalists than it is often given credit. Everything from local temperature to the food we eat to buffers against natural disasters may be regulated by the variety of life on our planet, and most scientists agree we are losing it at a rapid clip (1 million species are under threat of extinction globally, according to the IPBES).

"From Microbes to Rainforests" is an introductory course on biodiversity targeted for journalists with all kinds of beats (not just environmental) who may live and work anywhere on the planet (not just in biodiversity hotspots). It covers topics from basic ecology all the way to complex international governance, as well as two modules that focus on the practice of biodiversity—that is, how to do a good story on the topic. Numerous exercises and examples are peppered throughout to ensure that learners hone their skills in pursuit of their own biodiversity-related stories; not just pick up some interesting facts.

The course is self-paced (allowing participants to move at their own speed) and consists of engaging content (text, graphics and videos), dynamic exercises and summary quizzes. The course has six modules:

  1. Introduction to Biodiversity
  2. Contemporary Topics in Biodiversity
  3. Biodiversity Governance
  4. Localizing Biodiversity News
  5. Biodiversity Sources and Resources
  6. Biodiversity Solutions Journalism

The course is useful to journalists without experience in covering these topics and old hands alike. The modules explore a wide array of issues. Journalists can hope to learn about the following and more:

  • What are the basic concepts within biodiversity science
  • Which are the most pressing biodiversity issues of the day, from conservation to climate change to synthetic biology
  • How biodiversity policies work—and don't work—at levels local and international
  • How journalists can localize their stories about a topic that often seems either too general or far-reaching
  • What kinds of sources and resources are useful for stories surrounding biodiversity
  • Why it might be a good idea to experiment with biodiversity solutions stories and how

At the end of each module, learners will need to pass a quiz to gauge their understanding of the material. When learners reach the end of the course, they will undergo a final assessment and receive a certificate of course completion.

A companion resource list for the course is available here.

Learners will use the learning management system Moodle. If you have any further technical support questions regarding the course, please contact us at [email protected]

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