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Course Closeup: New Class Explores Intersection of Urban Environment & Health

Increased risk of climate change-related flooding in New York is one issue that a new course in urban health and environment reporting will address. Above, the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in lower Manhattan in 2012. PHOTO: Patrick McFall, Flickr Creative Commons.

Lead-poisoned drinking water sparks a public health emergency. 

Frequent heat waves spike asthma cases in poor communities. 

Global warming-drive floods soak low-lying urban neighborhoods.

These are just a few of the urban health and environment worries hitting New York and other metro areas, worsened by persistent pollution, disintegrating infrastructure, economic inequities and the emerging climate crisis.

Now a new course in Hunter’s Journalism program will equip students to report on the growing news beat at the intersection of these urban environmental and public health issues.

A new urban health-environment journalism class is expected to partner with a local news organization for a class-wide reporting project.

Urban Health and Environment Reporting (MEDP399), offered for the first time this spring, will provide students with a solid grounding in covering urban pollution, climate change, public health and environmental justice stories.

Participants in the course will hear from specialized journalists, learn how to decipher key science and health findings, and how to interview experts in these fields.

The class will take at least one field trip focused on local environment-health issues, and is expected to partner with a local news organization for a class-wide reporting project.

The class is the brainchild of faculty member Adam Glenn, an environmental journalist who has reported on the environment and health topic over the last 25-plus years with a range of news outlets in New York and Washington, D.C., including ABC News.

Hunter journalism faculty member Adam Glenn, appearing above left in 2016 on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show, when he partnered with the station on a project exploring the impacts of heatwaves in Harlem. Glenn will now launch a new urban environment and health reporting class at Hunter to explore similar stories. (Photo courtesy WNYC)
Hunter journalism faculty member Adam Glenn, appearing above left in 2016 on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, when he partnered with the station on a project exploring the impacts of heatwaves in Harlem. Glenn will now launch a new urban environment and health reporting class at Hunter to explore similar stories. (Photo courtesy WNYC)

While it’s the first such journalism course at Hunter, Glenn is no newcomer to teaching the topic, having run similar classes at New York University’s graduate journalism program in science and health reporting, and at CUNY’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where he partnered on student-driven environment projects with news partners including ProPublica and New York’s watchdog site, Gotham Gazette.

Glenn has long experience in reporting environmental issues and most recently partnered his climate news site AdaptNY for an award-winning project about urban heat with WNYC, New York’s flagship public radio station.

He also launched a comprehensive guide to reporting on how communities can adapt to climate change and is the editor of a weekly newsmagazine for the nation’s largest association of environmental journalists.

For more on Glenn’s take on environment and health reporting, view a recent talk he gave for Media 180.

Our Journalism Concentration & Minor

The Hunter College journalism program is offered as a concentration or a minor within the Department of Film & Media Studies. Its curriculum is built around production courses in journalism and analytical courses in media studies. Learn more about our course requirements.

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