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Science & Technology


Almost daily headlines tell of medical breakthroughs and public health horrors. The public and many journalists seem overwhelmed by the often-conflicting information. To help reporters sort through these thickets, the School offers courses that focus on the basics of epidemiology, multicultural health issues, emerging infectious diseases, chronic diseases, alternative medicine and substance abuse. Students learn the difference between viruses and bacteria, become acquainted health disparities based on ethnicity, gender, and other factors and read peer-reviewed studies to parse claims from pharmaceutical companies, public agencies and advocacy groups.

In addition to offering advanced reporting courses on science and the environment, the Knight Program regularly brings distinguished guests to campus to give public lectures and to work with students in small workshops.

The program has hosted Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation;" Bill McKibben, author of "The End of Nature;" ecologist and writer Wendell Berry; environmental activist and writer Vandana Shiva; Nobel biologist and Caltech President Dr. David Baltimore; and Jack Hitt, contributing writer and editor for such publications as The New York Times Magazine, Harper's and "This American Life." Recently, the program has panels and discussions such as, "Closer to Home: Eating from Local Foodsheds ", "Peril and Possibility: What the Next President Will Face, and What Journalists Might Try" with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, "Feeding a Crisis: the Limits of Industrialized Agriculture," and a discussion with Paul Roberts on his recent book, "The End of Food".

Additional panels and discussions with the school's Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism, Michael Pollan, can be viewed on UCTV's Website.

Working scientists regularly come to the school for brown-bag lunches with students in the program, who get a chance to refine their interviewing skills, build their Rolodexes and deepen their knowledge of particular subject areas. Recent lunch guests have included Ignacio Chapela (who works on genetically modified crops at UC Berkeley), Lynn Rothschild of NASA (on astrobiology), and Alan Weisman (best-selling author of “The World Without Us”).

For the past several years, the Knight Program has sponsored a project with The New York Times Magazine in which students contribute stories on science and technology to an annual special issue on that year's best ideas. The program also offers reporting grants to students working on stories in its subject areas.


  J298 Clash: Contested Terrain, Conflicting Interests : Telling Environmental Stories that Matter

For this course, think of potential stories in the broadest sense—embracing all of the ways that humankind interacts with the natural world, including but not limited to ecosystem preservation, alteration, degradation, and restoration; urbanization and industrialization; climate change; genetic engineering; agriculture, resource extraction, the use of public lands, air and water pollution; overpopulation, extinction, the subjugation of other species; waste generation, disposal, and conversion; energy production and distribution; along with the effects any of these might have on human health, community vitality, and social justice. Whatever your story turns out to be, we will pay close attention to the role of cultural factors, by which I mean, ideas, attitudes, values, beliefs, financial interests, histories, habits, appetites, as well as how all of these evolve, clash, and conspire within the context of public institutions (city councils, courts, legislatures, regulatory agencies, etc.) and social organizations (from neighborhoods, communities, and societies to activist and education groups, labor unions, and corporations). Every environmental story can tell us something about who we are and where we’re going. Every big environmental story sheds light on the human condition.


Chris Ballard


Marilyn Chase


Elena Conis

Permanent Faculty

James Fahn


Richard Koci Hernandez

Permanent Faculty

Jennifer Kahn


Kara Platoni


Michael Pollan

Permanent Faculty

Jeremy Rue


Mark Schapiro



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