The minute Jasmin and I heard about this course, we said the same thing. “I wanna take it.”
Will Potter is a great communicator (his appearance on our podcast remains one of our favorites). If you’ve ever heard him speak, or read his book, Green is the New Red (which Our Hen House reviewer Jennifer Molidor recently raved about), or read his blog, you already know that. And he knows everything there is to know about the state of journalism and activism in the US, and how those two things intersect, often in very scary ways.
Now, he will be sharing that information through his course, Investigative Journalism and Social Change: Reporting on Animal and Environmental Issues, at the University of Southern Maine. According to the description, the course will explore “the role and responsibility of journalists in shaping the national dialogue on social issues, and the qualities and techniques of investigative reporting,” and will address questions such as, “What are the often unspoken value assumptions behind journalists’ decisions within a story? What is the role of investigative journalists in providing checks and balances on power? How do both political activists and their opponents seek to use the press to shift public opinion? Is it possible for journalists to be unbiased?”
While these are topics that apply to a wide array of subjects, it’s the activist campaigns that will be used as case studies that make this course so especially exciting. They include campaigns by Earth First!, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, PETA, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, and Mercy For Animals.
So here’s the coolest part. Anyone can take the course — you don’t have to be a student. And you can take it online! Of course, since this is a real university and a serious academic enterprise, it comes with real tuition costs. But, if you can afford it, I think this will truly be an investment in becoming the best activist you can be. If you don’t believe, me, read the book. That you absolutely cannot afford not to do.
Take This Course: Investigative Journalism and Social Change