Oct 24, 2019 · 3 min read

Making Science Journalism More Diverse and Inclusive

University of California, Santa Cruz Trains the Next Generation of Science Journalists with Support from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Science Communication Master’s Program at UC Santa Cruz trains students in science journalism. Photo by Lisa Strong.

Today, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced a $195,500 grant to the University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz) to increase diversity, inclusion, and representation in its science journalism program. The grant will support efforts to attract a diverse set of candidates to the university’s Science Communication Master’s Program — the only graduate science writing program in the U.S. that requires a degree in science and experience in research.  

A 2018 survey of the National Association of Science Writers — the field’s largest professional organization — found that more than 88 percent of its membership identified as white, 5 percent as Asian or Pacific Islander, 3 percent as Latino or Hispanic, approximately 2 percent as South Asian, and a similar percentage chose multiple identifications. Only 1 percent identified as Black or African American. 

“More inclusive science journalism is better science journalism,” said Erika Check Hayden, director of the UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Master’s program. “Our students wholeheartedly embrace the drive to expand access to science journalism. Let’s give them the mentorship, tools, financial support, and training they need to help them act on these instincts.” Read Hayden’s op-ed.

CZI’s two-year grant supports UC Santa Cruz to recruit diverse candidates, develop new training in innovative storytelling techniques such as podcasting, and identify internships for students at local and regional outlets around the country to focus on community-centered reporting. The grant will also support the diversification of science communication faculty and guest instructors, as well as fund tuition and living expenses for scholars to enroll in the nine-month curriculum. UC Santa Cruz’s program aims to establish a model for expanding representation in science journalism that could be replicated at other training programs worldwide.

“We’re thrilled to support UC Santa Cruz in diversifying science journalism,” said CZI Director of Science Communications, Jeff MacGregor. “Supporting diverse researchers to write about science in communities around the country will strengthen the quality and variety of stories told about the important work that science contributes to society.”  

An additional outcome of the funding for UC Santa Cruz’s program is supporting a new communication class for students enrolled in science and engineering graduate programs at the school, aimed at boosting the engagement of scientists in public communication.


About UC Santa Cruz’s Science Communication Master’s Program

Established in 1981, the UC Santa Cruz program produces a range of professional science writers, with over 350 alumni working at the nation’s leading media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, PBS NewsHour, and the Washington Post. The program accepts a maximum of 10 total students each year and focuses on practical training through rigorous coursework and diverse internships. In 2018, the program was approved as a Master’s program. Read student articles.

About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit chanzuckerberg.com.

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