Cross Registration | Columbia Journalism School

Cross Registration

The Spring 2020 classes listed below (only these) are available for cross registration by graduate students from other divisions of Columbia. 

To request admission to a class students must submit this form. The form is open from January 13, 2020 at 10 a.m. to January 31, 2020 at 10 a.m. 

The Journalism School courses run from January 23 to May 16. Please make note of the dates associated with these classes as they do not match those of other Columbia schools.

All the courses listed below carry 6 points unless otherwise noted.

Class Offerings for Spring 2020

Class: Covering Race  (Waitlist only)
Instructor: Jelani Cobb
Meets: Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
6 points
Description: This course is an examination of one of the most salient themes in American life and the ways in which it informs our contemporary realities as well as its implications for media and reporting. Thus a grounding in race is a key perspective for the journalist writing in or about the United States. Objective: The student will gain greater insight into the central debates and formative influence of race in American society and its implications for reportage and media discussion of the subject.

Class: China Seminar  
Instructor:  Howard French
Meets: Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
6 points
Description: In the years and decades ahead, China will powerfully shape the world both in ways that are already becoming evident and in others as yet still unexpected. If you are interested in global reporting, wherever you come from and whatever region of the world you wish to report on, having a nuanced grasp of a fast-changing and dynamic China will be indispensable to writing smartly about international affairs.

This course aims to deepen students' understanding of China and sharpen the ways we think and write about the country as journalists. The seminar-style class involves wide and eclectic readings about China, which may include works of reportage, political science, history, sociology, business and economics and culture. Guest speakers will also be drawn from a range of areas of expertise and background. The course requires that students read current coverage of China from a variety of leading Western and (in translation) Chinese media. A portion of each class will be set aside for a running comparative examination of this coverage.

Written assignments will consist of off-the-news, deeply and collaboratively reported articles by students on current events, with a rich variety of voices drawn from both China and abroad. Students should expect to receive regular, careful editing of their work, along with feedback on writing and reporting.

Students who have little or no past exposure to China are welcome, as are students with prior experience in China and of course Chinese students, as well. Whatever your background there will be plenty to stimulate and engage you.


Class: The Journalist as Historian  
Instructor: Gershom Gorenberg
Meets: Mondays, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (with a break for lunch)
6 points
Description: A good work of history reads like a novel in which all the details are true. In this course, you will learn to frame a piece of history as a story, uncover sources, and transform evidence into an accurate narrative that casts the past and present in a new light. We will develop skills for finding and using archives, and for using sources including memoirs, newspapers, and popular culture to strengthen a story. With a focus on long-form writing, we will work on how to uncover the plot line in actual events and develop characters. To build a repertoire of techniques, we will look at fine historical writing, especially by journalists. Examining work on American race relations and the Israeli-Arab conflict, we will look at the relationship between facts, accepted narratives, and the writer's personal perspective - and at the impact of new writing on "what everyone knows." In short, we'll see how a writer can change history. In your own work, you will define a subject for a book-length work of history. You will then find sources and write one extended episode of the story. Finally, you will create a chapter outline and rewrite your episode in response to new sources and intensive workshop discussion of your writing. By the end of the course, each student should have the materials for a book proposal, along with the skills for enriching magazine writing with reporting on the past.

Work published by previous students in this class:


Class: Investigating the Failures of the Mental Health System (Waitlist only)
Instructor: Meg Kissinger
Meets: Tuesdays, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
6 points
Description: Mental illness is all around us. One in five Americans struggle with some form of it. We spend more than $300 billion a year on psychiatric care in this country. Still, these diseases are widely misunderstood and rarely discussed in non-judgmental, clear-headed ways. Care for people is often poorly managed and unavailable for those who need it most. We tend to blame the victims, shove them out of sight, into prisons and onto the streets.


Increasingly, we are seeing the results of these flawed policies played out to tragic ends. This investigative reporting class will examine the failures of the system and their consequences for all of us. Students will produce stories about what is broken and consider what can be fixed.

We will learn how to build an investigation of a mental health system by interviewing people with mental illness and hearing about their struggles and success. We'll go to where they live, talk to those who care for them, question policy makers and advocates. We'll mine for data, explore trends, analyze social policy and spending priorities. In short, we'll give light to what has been a very dark corner.

Work published by previous students in this class: 


Class: Covering Issues of Gender and Sexuality  
Instructor: Alisa Solomon
Meets: Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
6 points
Description: Take a look at the homepage of any major American daily almost any day, and you’ll find headlines like: “Miscarrying at Work: The Physical Toll of Pregnancy Discrimination” or “#WontBeErased: Transgender People and Allies Mobilize Against Trump Administration Proposal.” We are living in times in which issues of gender and sexuality are contentious matters that need clear and sober journalistic coverage. In this course, students will examine historical and theoretical frameworks for understanding gender and sexuality and will analyze how media practices shape public perception. They will engage in discussion with journalists covering these issues. And they will learn how to become sensitive, thorough, and contextual reporters on these topics, developing skills and insights that can inform and improve coverage of any beat.


Class: Art of the Profile (Waitlist only)
Instructor: Paula Span
Meets: Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Description: There’s a reason one of the most successful magazines launched in the past 45 years is called People. There’s also a reason the earliest stories we heard usually began, “There once was a little girl/evil wizard /mighty queen” and rarely began, “There once was a Committee on Ways and Means.” We are hardwired to take interest in the adventures, histories and dilemmas of other members of our species.

In this course, you’ll learn and practice the specialized interviewing, reporting and writing skills used to portray individuals. We’ll read and discuss some of the best contemporary and classic profiles, of subjects from baseball legend Ty Cobb to a sex toys saleswoman. You’ll discover how to leverage readers’ intrinsic interest in other people to inform them of things they think they don’t care about.

You’ll put together three profiles of various types, plus proposals and revisions. I’ll take a machete (at first) or a scalpel (later on) to every sentence you write. Some gifted practitioners will come tell us how they do it.

Work published by previous students in this class:


Class: Radio Workshop

Instructor: Sally Herships

Meets: Thursdays, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. and Fridays, 9 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.

6 points

Description: Radio Workshop develops the skills to tell compelling, sound-driven news stories as well as the fundamentals of long-form audio storytelling. The class operates as a working newsroom to produce a live, hour-long weekly news-magazine program, Uptown Radio.

As reporters, students produce four enterprise stories of increasing complexity, a personal commentary, two day-stories, two newscasts, and two host interviews. On the production side, students rotate through key leadership positions and technical positions to ensure a high-quality, timely broadcast. The leadership team makes all of editorial decisions with support from the instructors as needed.

Learning to write well for audio forces you to write clearly and concisely. As such, this course develops your reporting and writing in ways that will be useful in whatever career path you choose. No prerequisite for this class.

Radio Workshop meets on Thursdays 3 p.m.-5 p.m., and Fridays, 9 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Additionally, you will be expected to spend at least another full day on your reporting for the class.  The Thursday seminar will focus on developing craft through lecture and informal discussions with outside guests from throughout the broadcast and podcast landscape. 

Student reporting completed within class has gone to air both locally and nationally. Some examples include: 

Listen to additional work by previous students in this class on Uptown Radio.




Registration Details

For the most part, spots in J-School classes are assigned to non-Journalism graduate students on a space available basis (with top priority given to IMC SIPA students).

To request cross-registration in a Journalism School course, please complete this form.

The form will be active as of Monday, January 13, at 10 a.m.

Please note that this is only a REQUEST and we cannot guarantee your request will be accommodated.

Cross-registration request forms are processed on a first come, first served basis.

If your form is submitted correctly you will receive a request confirmation e-mail within 24 hours. Please remember to include the after your UNI.

You will NOT receive an e-mail from my office saying that your request was granted or not granted.

To learn if your request was granted, you must keep checking your class schedule on the web. All requests remain on file during the cross-registration period (January 13 - January 31 at 10 a.m.).

You do not need to submit multiple forms for the same cross-registration request. If I am able to grant requests I do it as soon as possible but sometimes it takes days for a space to open in a class. Sometimes the space never opens up.

Please remember that you are submitting a cross-registration REQUEST. There is no guarantee that I will be able to approve your request. Until you see a change reflected on your class schedule on STUDENT SERVICES ONLINE, your request has not been approved.

If you have more than one course for which you want to be considered, please submit a separate form for each class.

Also, please be certain that you are not requesting a class that conflicts with any of your other classes.

Direct any questions to Melanie Huff.