Journalism Institutes

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Click map to zoom.


IJNR learning expeditions help reporters and editors at all career stages to gain perspective and understanding and to become better storytellers. Mid-career, early-career and veteran reporters and editors from a diverse range of newspapers, magazines, broadcast operations and on-line news organizations are chosen to participate. Journalists working for smaller organizations, including tribal and ethnic news media, are encouraged to apply. IJNR fellowship awards cover the costs of meals, lodging, chartered bus and all other field activities during the expeditions. In addition, some travel stipends are available.

These fellowships are designed for reporters and editors who aspire to produce deeper, more explanatory news coverage of issues that affect growth, economic development, rural communities, natural resources and the environment.

Funding for IJNR programs comes from a broad spectrum of charitable foundations, conservation and environment groups, state and federal government agencies, news-media groups, natural-resource companies and trade associations, as well as individual donors. (See IJNR’s Supporters page.)

Please review How To Apply for details on selection criteria, application materials and costs.

Upcoming 2014 Institutes:

icon_exped Detroit River Institute


The Detroit River and downtown skyline. Photo courtesy Flickr user rexp2

The Detroit River and downtown skyline. Photo courtesy Flickr user rexp2

The St. Clair/Detroit River corridor has suffered a long history of abuse, including toxic dumping and ongoing stormwater problems, and both rivers have been dubbed “Great Lakes Areas of Concern” by the U.S. EPA.

Combined sewer overflows, industrial development, a history of agricultural use, aging infrastructure, and shifting lake levels all contribute to significant water quality issues.  E. coli warnings and fish consumption advisories are still routine in a water body that gets heavy recreational use. The basin is also home to invasive aquatic species, changing fish communities, and reduced wildlife habitat. For all its troubles, though, Detroit is positioned for a surge in green infrastructure due largely to all the vacant land within its borders. And the United States and Canada have steadily pieced together the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, a massive complex of islands and wetlands that provide critical habitat and show that cooperative efforts between nations can make a difference.

Potential topics of discussion:

  • The scouring of the St. Clair River and its effect on water levels in the upper Great Lakes.
  • Detroit’s wastewater treatment plant, which still dumps millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Detroit River and ultimately Lake Erie.
  • The thriving recreational Mecca of Lake St. Clair, home to world-class walleye, muskellunge and smallmouth bass fishing, as well as boating beaches and other aquatic pursuits.
  • The expansive marshes of Harsen’s and Walpole islands.
  • The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
  • The repurposing of Detroit’s expansive green space.
  • The community activists who are helping Detroit reinvent itself.
  • The public health impacts of decades of industrialization, particularly in impoverished areas and ethnic enclaves.

Application Deadline: September 12.

Apply Now



Completed 2014 Institutes:

icon_exped Shale Country Institute – Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York 

Photo courtesy Wikimedia commons user meridithw

Photo courtesy Wikimedia commons user meridithw

Our Shale Country Institute will took place in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York from June 24th through the 28th.

While we continude the “roving journalists” approach to this Institute, Shale Country was be all about fracking. We discussed economics, ecology, and environmental toxicology. We heard about human health, water and air quality, and citizen science. And we got on the bus and met with scientists, industry representatives, concerned citizens, and many others in the forests, fields and neighborhoods where these important stories are taking place.

Journalists visited:

·      Buffalo, New York to talk about natural gas transport and pipelines

·      The Allegheny National Forest to discuss hydraulic fracturing on public lands

·      Sites near Youngstown, Ohio, where a recent spate of earthquakes led to a pause in fracking while authorities pinpoint the cause

·      The Finger Lakes of New York, where a contentious proposal is brewing to use abandoned salt mines for natural gas storage

For better viewing, see the 2014 Shale Country Institute in a larger map, or click the “full screen” icon in the upper right-hand corner of the map below. For more information about each stop on the trip, click on the red stars, or on the various Topics/Sites listed.

icon_expedNorth Carolina Institute – Central and coastal North Carolina


Highway 12 on North Carolina's Outer Banks, washed out following Hurricane Irene in 2011. Photo by Tom Mackenzie, USFWS.

Highway 12 on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, washed out following Hurricane Irene in 2011. Photo by Tom Mackenzie, USFWS.

IJNR’s  North Carolina Institute covered natural resource, economic and human health issues from the research triangle of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill to North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

On the North Carolina Institute, journalists:

  • Observed the EPA’s ongoing clean up efforts at the Ward Transformer Superfund site, considered one of the first cases in the U.S. environmental justice movement.
  • Visited the lab of world-renowned toxicologists working to understand how industrial chemicals affect human health and the environment and how early life exposures may lead to later life consequences.
  • Toured large and small-scale farm operations to talk about the trade-offs involved in producing food and protecting freshwater resources.
  • Slogged through the muck of a saltwater marsh at low-tide to observe cutting edge experiments in oyster reef conservation.
  • Stood where the eastern U.S. meets the Atlantic Ocean to discuss controversial infrastructure projects, including a billion-dollar bridge along NC Highway 12, as communities struggle to plan for rising seas in a state that prohibits them from using the latest climatological projection

These are just some of the stops included on the Institute that traveled from the Raleigh/Durham area to the Outer Banks and back. The trip also included programming on wetland restoration efforts, North Carolina’s struggling commercial fisheries and using digital media to tell environment stories better.

For better viewing, see the 2014 North Carolina Institute in a larger map, or click the “full screen” icon in the upper right-hand corner of the map below.

icon_exped 2015 Institutes coming soon! Please check back regularly as we finalize next year’s schedule.