Category Archives: Classes

Although the lab course numbers remain the same, topics change semester to semester. Check MSU’s schedule of courses for the latest information. The three-credit courses can be taken more than once.
Completion requirements for the graduate 800 level courses are greater than those of the undergraduate 400 level courses.
JRN 472/872 Lab Environmental Reporting
This course gives students hands on experience producing environmental news stories. Class-produced stories meeting professional standards are published on the center’s award-winning Great Lakes Echo non-profit news service. Students have analyzed the ecological footprint of Spartan Stadium and the pollution inputs into the Red Cedar River. They have waded in rivers to examine macroinvertebrates, analyzed and mapped data and explored creative reader engagement techniques such as this one modeled after Jaywalking on the Tonight Show or this one that gives clues to polluted sites. Others include the Great Lakes Smackdown and the popular carp bombs. The course offers a great way to pick up clips and experience. Story types vary by student interest and skill but can encompass text, audio, photography, video and creative reader engagement strategies. Topics vary semester to semester and students can take the course more than once and for variable credit.
In the fall of 2013 the course is called News eye in the clear sky. Students will shoot video from an aerial drone while exploring the exciting opportunities and thorny ethical and legal challenges of new ways of perceiving the environment with satellite imagery, drones and other remote sensing techniques. And they will look at some of the newsworthy aspects of the other civilian applications of such technology.
JRN 473/873 Seminar in environmental journalism
The course focuses on news media reporting of environmental, scientific and health issues. The seminar is mostly guided by the following question: How can journalists deal with scientific uncertainty and the inherent complexities of environmental and health issues? The discussions cover topics such as: journalists’ role conceptions, journalistic norms, environmental discourses in popular culture, use of expert sources, reporters’ beliefs and perceptions, organizational constraints, and the gap between journalistic and scientific cultures, among others. We discuss historical and current issues where science has played a central role in their media reporting. These issues include, among others: energy, smoking, climate change, ozone layer hole, GMOs, hydraulic fracturing, population growth, and natural disasters.
Elsewhere within the School of Journalism
Students are encouraged to explore environmental reporting in the context of other journalism classes such as feature writing, multi-media production, broadcast, Capital News Service and public affairs classes. Instructors of such classes often collaborate with the Knight Center.
Elsewhere at MSU
Both graduate and undergraduate students interested in environmental reporting are encouraged to broaden their knowledge of environmental science and policy by exploring related coursework at MSU. This is required of undergraduates seeking an environmental concentration and of masters students pursuing the environmental option.
Among the Knight Center affiliated programs at MSU are the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment for undergraduates and the university’s Environmental Science and Policy Program for graduate students.


Knight Center Documentary Grant competition for 2024

The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism will award up to 3 grants of $3,500 each to support the making of environment-related documentaries (video, audio or other digital media) by MSU faculty-student teams.

Here are the essentials

Deadline for submission: February 16, 2024, at 5 p.m.
Decisions to be announced approximately March 8, 2024.
Open to faculty and students from all departments at MSU.
Maximum award: $3,500 for 1 year.

These must be documentaries, not public service announcements or advocacy pieces.
The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism must be credited for underwriting the project.
The Knight Center will be entitled to use your documentary, including linking on our website and presentation in classes, workshops and other activities.
Allowable expenses include travel, essential equipment, supplies, pay for students and festival & competition entry fees. All expenditures must comply with MSU procedures and rules. Any equipment purchased remains the property of MSU. Grant funds must be expended with one year from the date of approval by MSU Contracts and Grants.

What to Submit:

  • Working title
    • Medium: video, audio or other digital media
    • Project summary (200 words maximum): What compelling story will you tell?
    • Estimated timeline (Be realistic)
    • Most likely audiences: Whom do you expect to watch or listen to it?
    • For video & audio documentaries, what length do you expect the final version to be?
    • Distribution plans: How will you disseminate your product?
    • Budget plan: How do you plan to spend the money?
    • Team members:
    • Faculty: name, rank and department or school and project role, with abbreviated CV
    • Students: name, year, major and project role, with resume
    • Potential problems and obstacles
    • Links to any relevant projects by team members or bring a CD to the Knight Center office at 382 Com Arts Building by the deadline

Email questions to Eric Freedman, Director,
Email submissions to Barbara Miller,

The Fifth Modern Wonder of Peru  

The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism recently taught an online environmental journalism to a group of university students in Peru. This is one of the stories produced during that effort. The program was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Lima.

By Alvaro Benavente 

Six hours from Lima, three buses and four hours of walking — depending on your physical performance – is the fifth modern wonder of Peru, Marcahuasi.  

Located near the town of San Pedro de Casta in the province of Huarochirí, Lima, it is one of the highest plateaus in the world (4,100 meters above sea level), with 4 square kilometers of rock formations, spectacular abysses, lagoons, flora, fauna and a sky in which you can see the Milky Way.  

Without a doubt, it’s quite a visual show known among the hikers of Peru.  Continue reading

Dismissed Relics: Real Felipe Fortress  

The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism recently taught an online environmental journalism to a group of university students in Peru. This is one of the stories produced during that effort. The program was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Lima.

By Micaela Sotillo  

Peru is a country with monuments of great historical value, and for every street or avenue you walk, there will be something to tell about it.  

The huacas, temples and fortresses are located inside and outside the cities, giving an effect of mysticism to the neighborhoods. 

In the Callao region, known for being the largest seaport since the viceroyalty, there is the Real Felipe Fortress. It is the most fascinating attraction of the port of Callao.  

Built in the 18th century, the Real Felipe defended Lima from pirate attacks, and the strong walls continued to protect the city even after independence in the 19th century. 

This wonderful monument is the pride of many citizens of the region. 

However, a few weeks ago, many citizens registered complaints about the poor condition and maintenance outside the installations. Between plastic bags and organic waste, the foundations are deteriorating, and what seemed like a place admired by many is now a concern for history lovers.  Continue reading

Piles of garbage clutter Villa El Salvador  

The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism recently taught an online environmental journalism to a group of university students in Peru. This is one of the stories produced during that effort. The program was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Lima.

By Valeria Romero Espinoza  

The corners of streets and avenues in the district of Villa El Salvador have become a garbage dump that creates an unpleasant landscape for passers-by who pass through these places daily.  

The piles of garbage are an ongoing problem because the system for the collection and transportation of domestic and public waste is deficient and disorganized. 

There is no proper solid waste management by the local government.  

People leave their garbage bags and all types of waste at certain points on public roads, such as sidewalks, parks, avenues and central berms, many of these around markets, hospitals and schools, which leads to the accumulation of large amounts of garbage.  

Garbage bags on Av. Micaela Bastidas.

Neighbors say this problem has several roots.   Continue reading