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Health, Environment and Science 

From the latest medical research to health care reform to climate change, the Health, Environment and Science specialization prepares future journalists to cover the hottest topics. Medill’s strong focus on reporting provides the tools you need to cover this fast-moving, complex and multi-faceted beat from the world-class city of Chicago with opportunities to pursue stories in the Andes Mountains, New Zealand and other environmental hot spots.

About the specialization

From breaking news on environmental crises and regulation to consumer reporting on medical advances and health care reform, the Health, Environment and Science specialization provides a solid foundation for journalists to understand how these issues touch so many areas. 

The Health, Environment and Science specialization starts in the summer quarter.


Why Health, Environment and Science?

Career opportunities in health and science media are growing as readers and viewers seek information on medical advances, federal health care reform and environmental changes -- and how these issues affect their daily lives. The demand is high for journalists who can explain these complex topics in ways that are easy to understand.

What will I learn?

At Medill, you’ll learn from experienced faculty who’ve seen coverage in this specialization grow and evolve over the years. They’ll teach you to use the latest technology to report on breaking news, trends and features related to issues surrounding health, environment and science. You’ll analyze data, interview sources and uncover stories on your beat as you report for Medill News Service, where your stories will be picked up by partner organizations.

In addition to hands-on experience, you’ll have the chance to participate in onsite training, attend guest lectures by journalists and go behind the scenes at laboratories, hospitals and global environmental research centers. You’ll graduate with an impressive portfolio and connections to Medill’s vast network.

For more information, watch a recorded information session about the Health, Environment and Science specialization.

Your Medill Experience

Student looking at petri dish with specimens in them.

Curriculum

Courses include multimedia reporting assignments and field trips to meet science reporters, scientists, climate experts, lab researchers and physicians. You can pursue stories in a sub-specialty that most interests you, from medicine to the environment to technology to astronomy. In the fourth quarter you can do an embedded reporting experience with science field research teams.

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Chicago skyline at sunset.

Chicago

Our downtown space is home to nationally ranked academic medical centers, the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Midwest region headquarters and the Museum of Science and Industry. Federal laboratories Argonne and Fermilab are also nearby.

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MSJ students standing together for a photo with cliff and water behind them.

Medill Explores

You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a faculty-led learning adventure during a week-long suspension of classes. Previous opportunities have included shadowing scientists, clinicians, researchers and field explorers.

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Comer scholar Janice Cantieri with a baby goat around her neck during a reporting trip to India.

Comer Scholarship

The Comer Scholarship supports students who demonstrate commitment to covering environmental issues. Comer Scholars are selected for their academic excellence, passion for environmental journalism and vision of environmental journalism’s potential impact—and their role in it.

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Photo collage of many events that take place in Chicago during Medill Fridays.

Medill Fridays

We welcome renowned journalists and host health and science writing workshops to help you expand your skills. These sessions offer a chance to get to know your peers in an informal environment.

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Close up of hand typing on computer on desk.

Career Services

Journalists skilled in covering health, environment and science are in high demand at traditional and non-mainstream media organizations. Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations also value communicators who can make these topics accessible to a wide range of audiences. 

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Our Faculty

Donna Leff

Donna Leff

Leff's interest in health policy research is an outgrowth of her award-winning investigative reporting for "Chicago Today" and the Chicago Tribune newspapers in Chicago and Ypsilanti, Michigan. 

Abigail Foerstner

Abigail Foerstner

Foerstner’s 40-year career as a journalist began when she initiated science and environmental coverage as a staff reporter for regional sections of the Chicago Tribune. 

Patti Wolter

Patti Wolter

Wolter has deep experience in the magazine industry. She was the senior features editor at Self magazine, where she managed award-winning and investigative content on women’s health.

Our Alumni

Herman Wang (MSJ03)

Herman Wang
Senior Writer
S&P Global Platts

Wang is a London-based reporter covering OPEC, a fast-moving beat that can often move oil markets. He previously covered U.S. oil and gas policy in Washington.

Kristen Minogue (MSJ10)

Kristen Minogue
Science Writer
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Minogue works alongside scientists and writes about their work for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, a coastal biology station on Chesapeake Bay operated by the Smithsonian Institution.

Natasha T. Metzler (MSJ04)

Natasha T. Metzler
Science Writer
Carnegie Institution for Science

From her institution's communications shop, Metzler helps about 400 Earth, space and life scientists share their work with the press and the public using social media, online articles and videos, and quarterly print publications.