As environmental news has garnered more attention in recent years, Point Park University will now have the opportunity to obtain environmental journalism degrees.
The new degree, available to undergraduate and graduate students, will be offered in the fall of 2016.
Students will be able to focus on print or broadcast and will pair journalism classes with classes in environmental sciences, like ecology and biology, according to School of Communications Chair Thom Baggerman.
“(We want students) to be able to not just rely on the words of their sources, but have the ability to go to the primary documents, the scientific report and analyze it for themselves,” Baggerman said.
Current first-year journalism students can also change their major to the new program, Baggerman said.
Point Park is one of only a handful of schools in the country that offer environmental journalism programs to undergraduates, he said.
“We’re going to be looking for the best and brightest students out there, who are leading their high school newspapers and high school radio stations … who may have a real passion for reporting on the environment,” Baggerman said, pointing out the demand for environmental journalists in the media industry today.
“Most publications have at least one … environmental beat reporter,” he said.
Point Park’s location in downtown Pittsburgh made it the perfect place to learn about reporting on environmental issues, he added.
“(The environment) is a vital concern for downtown Pittsburgh,” Baggerman said. “It really did seem like the place where if something as important as this were going to happen, it kind of had to be us.”
He has high aspirations for the program’s future graduates.
“We want them to change the world,” Baggerman said. “We want them to come out able to do intelligent, informed journalism around this important issue.”
Point Park is hosting an event March 15, which will feature Curt Guyette, the investigative journalist who broke the Flint water story, to speak about environmental reporting.
The new program is being funded by a grant from the Heinz Endowments.