Classes

Please note: The classes listed here represent recent offerings at the Journalism School. These include M.S. and M.S. in Data Journalism courses, except for those that are specifically designated as M.A. courses. Choices vary each semester depending on faculty availability and other considerations. Classes described now may change or be dropped to make room for new additions. We cannot promise that students will gain a seat in any specific class.

Investigating Health Care

Exploding prescription drug prices. A mental health system in crisis. Consumers struggling to afford their health insurance premiums. These are among the issues that make taking this course in the spring semester such a great opportunity. You will learn how to navigate one of journalism's most complicated beats, all with an investigative reporter's eye. Individual classes will focus on hospitals, health professionals, our aging society, controversies in medicine, insurance companies, health reform and the pharmaceutical industry. We will also dissect the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The course will explore many issues beyond health care, including politics, consumer affairs, finances, the law, ethics and demographics. Along the way, students will become skilled in using public records, understanding bureaucratic agencies and querying databases that can be used on practically any beat. Class assignments will require use of investigative skills, interviewing techniques and interaction with bureaucracies. You will work hard in this class but may leave with clips published in major U.S. media outlets. 

M.A. Science Seminar-in-Concentration

Students in the M.A. Science concentration focus on the themes and ways of thinking that can be used to cover any scientific field, whether it’s health, technology or the hard sciences. They examine several disciplines up close – including, physics, climate science and ecology in the fall, and evolution, genetics and medicine in the spring. Students also get a landscape view, looking at history, patterns of discovery and innovation. The seminar emphasizes understanding the culture and practice of science, giving students the skills to interpret a peer‐reviewed study as well as a clear‐eyed view of the peer‐review process. It places particular emphasis on writing creatively and compellingly, whether in a short news story or in a long piece of narrative nonfiction. Many of our most successful students come to the program without prior academic or professional exposure to the sciences; deep curiosity is far more important.

Recent guest lecturers have included physicist Imre Bartos, who worked on the gravitational wave discovery; paleoclimatologist Gisela Winckler; historian of science Daniel Kevles; and sociologist Alondra Nelson, dean of social sciences at Columbia.

Storytelling About The Environment

This course will focus on documentary storytelling about one of the most exciting and wide-ranging areas of coverage: science and the environment. Students in this course will learn how to report on and think critically about the many facets of this complex beat, which includes disciplines from ecology to public health. Through extensive reading as well as visits with science journalists and researchers studying issues such as climate change, students will learn to how to identify and write compelling stories about science. The stories they write and the issues they explore will lead to the production of short documentary films.

Students will learn advanced principles of field production, as well as sophisticated post-production techniques.  The course will focus on shooting techniques, proper audio recording, and narrative storytelling skills. Although there will be theoretical discussions and critiques of professional work, a great deal of class time will be spent in the field in order to strengthen each student's production capabilities. The course will be rigorous and will meet for two full days a week.

The course will work closely with Field of Vision, the documentary unit founded by Laura Poitras. The class will take several trips to the Field of Vision offices to meet and learn from professional filmmakers.