By Amanda Proscia
MSU geography alum Eric Bauman (BA 1972, MA 1976) recently visited the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism to discuss his career in energy and environmental, health and safety planning.
Bauman is an environmental technical adviser for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a nonprofit organization in Palo Alto, California, that researches electric power-related issues.
Spending a large chunk of his childhood in the Michigan outdoors heavily influenced his career path, he said.
“Growing up my parents often took us to the Huron National forest near the Au Sable River in northern Michigan, so I always had an affinity for being outside.”
Although Bauman never took classes in Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, he said communication is one of the most vital aspects of his job.
“We’re here to explore what is being done here at the Knight Center in the area of complex science and environmental communication,” he said. “We’re in the business of doing science and research and we need to communicate those results to people – people don’t want to read 300-page reports.”
Visiting with Bauman were Clay Perry, senior manager of media relations at EPRI and Chris Mahoney, environmental marketing and communication leader at EPRI
Perry arranged for Knight Center students in the environmental reporting class to listen in on interview with a reporter from the journal Nature and one of the institute’s scientists.
Bauman values environmental communication so much that he has a planned endowed scholarship fund with the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at MSU.
The “James Wiljanen Memorial Scholarship Fund” is named after a deceased WKAR environmental reporter who often contacted Bauman as a source during Bauman’s early career.
Wiljanen and Bauman collaborated on a weekly radio broadcast about current environmental topics and became close friends as a result.
“Jim was a pioneer,” said Bauman. “He was one of the first environmental reporters I encountered in Lansing who reported on environmental issues outside of conservation.”
Bauman said the gift is a way to pay tribute to Wiljanen’s trailblazing in the area of environmental reporting.
“We should all know who the pioneer in our fields were and have some understanding of what they went through and appreciate it,” he said.