As environmental issues take center stage in news and public discourse, Anandam Kavoori, professor of telecommunications for the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, is encouraging journalism students to go beyond the headlines to tell their Earth stories.
Kavoori last fall launched a course aimed at instilling in its participants a set of tools to prepare them for careers in the growing field of environmental journalism.
“Grady needs to be positioned to understand, mediate and tell the story of the changing environment,” Kavoori said. “It’s an important moment for us.”
Instead of reporting on the environment by only examining themes, such as water, or issues like climate change, Kavoori encourages his students to immerse themselves into a place and draw on their senses in order to develop and hone their storytelling skills.
“People fight for things that they relate to, that they love,” he explained. “The idea is to bring students to a place and teach them about the place: its culture, its history, its ecology, its songs. Everything.”
Class members served as the “media arm” for the Landscape Change in the Southeast Conference. They explored and reflected on visits to Sapelo Island, Ga. Additionally, they produced special reports on various topics including erosion at Tybee Island and organic farming.
“I appreciated how Professor Kavoori gave us broad readings and challenged us to think outside of the classroom when it comes to education, sense of place and our environment,” said Carolyn Crist, a second-year Grady graduate student in health and medical journalism from Newnan, Ga.
With the assistance of Grady faculty members Chris Shumway and Michael Castengera and staff member Don McClain, students launched the website Environmental Journalism at UGA to share their goals and showcase their work.
“The goal is to tap into an emerging market in environmental communication,” Kavoori explained, “to create a network of people broadly interested in working in environmental issues and then use Grady students as storytellers of their projects and, in doing so, get them ready for jobs in that field.”
The setting for the next environmental journalism course will be Costa Rica, a country that has made a national commitment to conservation. Notably, it’s the first time a Grady course will be offered in a Spanish-speaking country.
Kavoori will join faculty members from the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Lamar Dodd School of Art for the interdisciplinary Maymester study-abroad program called Art, Astronomy and Journalism. Participants elect to take two of five courses-astronomy, drawing, environmental journalism, graphic design and painting- to earn up to seven credits.
During an intense three weeks, May 13-June 4, students in the environmental journalism class will build multi-media portfolios comprised of blog posts and photo essays. The class will also collectively produce a documentary.
The course is a special topics elective open to any interested UGA student. The deadline to apply for the program, which is limited to 20 participants, is March 21.
For more details about the Art, Astronomy and Journalism study-abroad program or to learn about the UGA Costa Rica campus, visit http://www.externalaffairs.uga.edu/costa_rica.
UGA Grady College
Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in journalism, advertising, public relations, digital and broadcast journalism and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see www.grady.uga.edu or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.