Science, Seuss and the Elements of Style

PoulsonTeachBy David Poulson

Most of my communications work with scientists and other researchers involves convincing them to write shorter, less jargon-filled sentences.

The payoff is improved public understanding that can build a constituency for what they do.

But now there is evidence of another payoff – one that is more direct, measurable and involves the coin of their realm: academic citations.

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Injecting international content into environmental journalism courses

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 2.56.27 PMIt’s possible to integrate international content into a variety of journalism courses, including environmental journalism, Knight Center director Eric Freedman said on a panel at the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication annual conference in San Francisco.

Drawing from the experience of MSU’s JRN 472/JRN 872 Environmental Reporting course, he explained how Knight Center students report about issues and events that cross the U.S.-Canadian border in the Great Lakes region. To illustrate, he pointed to four student-produced stories that appeared on Great Lakes Echo.

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Takahashi named Sustainability Fellow

Bruno Takahashi

Bruno Takahashi

Knight Center Research Director Bruno Takahashi has been named one of four 2015 Sustainability Fellows at Michigan State University.

The program funds research on environmental responsibility and sustainability at MSU to better inform decision makers how to improve it.

Takahashi is part of a team that will survey undergraduate students on their knowledge of sustainability and related behaviors and attitudes toward environmental responsibility.

Other members of the team include John Besley, associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, and Adam Zwickle, assistant professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Program and the School of Criminal Justice in the College of Social Science.

Also named as a Sustainability Fellow is Sina Jahangiri Mamouri, a doctoral student in MSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering who will explore the potential for solar water heaters on campus.

Knight Center seeks MSU students for paid jobs

The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism has limited paid staff positions for graduate and undergraduate students at Michigan State University. The work includes

  • producing news stories for Great Lakes Echo, our award winning online regional environmental news service;
  • assisting faculty with research, including online and library research and proofreading of conference papers, journal articles and other material;
  • interviewing scientists about their environment-related research for podcasts and other public distribution;
  • helping “translate” research for lay audiences.

Other needs depend on the flow of projects, grants and Knight Center activities. Hours are flexible.

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Dawn of the wolf patrol: How I got the story

Holly Drankhan

Holly Drankhan hiking in the Swiss alps.

Editor’s note: Michigan State University student Holly Drankhan recently landed an interview  with a convicted arsonist and bombmaker for the Knight Center’s Great Lakes Echo.

Rod Coronado in 1992 burned down an MSU laboratory, destroying 32 years of animal research.

Subsequently the animal rights activist spent two years on the lam before serving a 57-month prison sentence. He told Drankhan that he now is a law-abiding advocate for Great Lakes wolves.

Drankhan, 22, of Clarkston, Michigan, took an environmental reporting class at the Knight Center before graduating with a degree in zoology last June. She continued to freelance for Great Lakes Echo through the summer and will enter the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine this fall.

The Knight Center asked her how she developed the story about the controversial activist. Here’s the scoop: Continue reading

High schooler’s prize-winning documentary features some Knight Center work

An eighth grader from New York created an award-winning documentary about Rachel Carson with a bit of help from Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

Nicole Chiang, a student entering Guilderland High School in Albany County this fall, became interested in the adverse effects of pesticides when she volunteered at the Farnsworth Middle School Pine Bush Butterfly Station. Last summer there weren’t any butterflies at the station, although there were plenty in previous years, she said.

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