Planet on the Brink: Climate and Environment Journalism
This course is for students who care about “the fate of the earth,” and who want to try their hand at formulating relevant publication-quality fact and opinion pieces. Those students include: STEM students who are writing-curious; journalism students interested in sci-tech writing; and prose writers who care about using facts to tell urgently important stories. We'll tackle urgent topics that regularly command today's headlines, such as: global warming (should we risk geoengineering the climate?); “the 6th Extinction" (should we try to save every endangered species?); and preventing the next pandemic (should researchers be allowed to augment non-virulent viruses to learn how to defeat them should they mutate?). Inaction on issues that threaten life in the world your generation is now inheriting may be due, partly, to the difficulty of formulating coherent opinions about corrective courses of action. One way to avoid the “deer-in-headlights” non-response is to learn enough facts to formulate compelling, persuasive opinions. This course gives you the chance to do precisely that—while improving your writing skills. You will also work on a semester-long reporting project of profiling a scientist, doctor, or researcher who is involved in sci/tech/fate-of-the-earth issues. This course is cross-listed with Science, Technology, and Society. For students in the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, this course meets the Humanities and Public Engagement requirements.