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ASU students to cover global sustainability issues in Calif.

October 25, 2013

Arizona State University students will report on important global sustainability issues for an innovative media outlet in California, the latest effort by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to create a cadre of young journalists with expertise in effectively communicating complex sustainability stories.

Students will research and write on sustainability issues for Zócalo Public Square, an “idea exchange” and media outlet that blends live events and humanities journalism. The nonprofit organization is part of the ASU Center for Social Cohesion, a project dedicated to studying the forces that shape social unity.

“Zócalo Public Square is thrilled to be hosting Cronkite School student interns at our ASU California Center headquarters in Santa Monica,” said Joe Mathews, Zócalo Public Square editor and ASU professor of practice. “This is a tremendous opportunity for journalism students to immerse themselves in all aspects of an innovative new media nonprofit organization.”

Zócalo Public Square operates a daily website, syndicates articles to hundreds of publications – including Time magazine and USA Today – and presents numerous free public events and conferences across the country with a focus on finding real-world solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges.

ASU students interning for Zócalo Public Square will become junior members of Zócalo's staff and will be involved in all aspects of producing content for a daily website.

“This is a great opportunity for ASU students to report on critical global sustainability issues, working with an innovative nonprofit based at our new ASU California Center,” said Cronkite dean, Christopher Callahan. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Zócalo and look forward to producing more top journalists with a deep understanding of important and complex sustainability issues.”

In addition to the Zócalo Public Square partnership, the Cronkite School is working closely with the School of Sustainability on other joint ventures. Earlier this year, the two schools appointed leading documentary filmmaker and sustainability expert Peter Byck as a professor of practice. He is the creator of the widely acclaimed documentary "Carbon Nation," a film about climate change solutions.

Byck teaches a short form documentary course – with students from both schools – that gives hands-on experience in communicating contemporary principles, ideas and concepts on sustainability and documentary filmmaking.

Cronkite and the School of Sustainability also are working on plans for dual degrees on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

“Today's students/tomorrow's leaders need to be able to clearly and concisely communicate the importance of sustainability challenges, concepts and solutions to the public,” said Rob Melnick, executive director and chief operating officer of the School of Sustainability. “The future well-being of communities, states, nations and the planet depends on this.”

Established in 2007, the School of Sustainability is the first comprehensive degree-granting program of its kind in the U.S. It aims to solve environmental, economic and social challenges. The School of Sustainability is part of the Global Institute of Sustainability, the hub for ASU’s sustainability initiatives. The Global Institute advances research, education and business practices for an urbanizing world.