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Driving Environmental Conversations

Metcalf Institute at URI is helping journalists understand the science behind major environmental issues


If journalists don’t understand environmental issues, can they accurately report on them? Metcalf Institute at URI doesn’t think so. That’s why they host an Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists, a week-long event during which ten Fellows from around the world come to URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography, one of our nation’s premier research institutions with a global reputation for excellence in marine research and exploration of the world’s oceans and coasts.

This year’s fellows, chosen from more than 100 applicants from 44 countries, include freelance journalists, staff writers and editors from public radio and organizations such as Reuters News and represent five U.S. states and four countries. This diverse group will draw upon their unique backgrounds and perspectives to learn from one another and from distinguished field leaders, returning to their jobs at the end of the week with a heightened awareness of the science behind today’s major environmental issues.

The Narragansett Bay, one of the world’s best-studied estuaries, as a case study to examine coastal ecosystems and global climate change. The Metcalf Institute Fellowship provides critical context for environmental stories, builds journalists’ confidence in utilizing scientific data, and gives the Fellows an opportunity to engage with leading scientists. Metcalf Fellows leave the workshop with the background, tools and resources to report on a range of environmental and science topics.

Concurrent with the journalism workshop, Metcalf Institute hosts a public lecture series for those with an interest in the environment, regardless of their profession. The lectures, given by top scientists and policy experts, will be held at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography, June 5-9. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the lecture series, a milestone the Institute will celebrate with attendees at a post-lecture reception on June 5. Lectures will be held at 3:30pm June 5-8, in Corless Auditorium on the URI Narragansett Bay Campus. The June 9 lecture will be held at 11:00am.

In addition to the Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists and the public lecture series, Metcalf Institute offers a variety of resources for those interested in climate change, oceans, and environmental science. They also host seminars and webinars for journalists throughout the year.

Dr. Sunshine Menezes, executive director of Metcalf Institute, believes that “conversations about environmental issues have become muddied by politics, which is unfortunate. We’ve never seen a greater need for informed public dialogue on environmental challenges and solutions. Metcalf Institute helps journalists and scientists more effectively communicate the science underlying environmental issues, so news consumers can make their decisions based on accurate, clear information provided with context.”

Together, the Metcalf Institute’s Annual Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists and Annual Lecture Series ground environmental news in scientific research that informs our understanding, shaping both public opinion and public policy. With these programs, our small state provokes change throughout the nation and the world.