Cynthia Barnett joins the College as a Hearst Visiting Professional, will teach Environmental Journalism course in the Spring
Award-winning environmental journalist and author Cynthia Barnett will join the University of Florida for 2015 as a Hearst Visiting Professional, part of the College of Journalism and Communications’ commitment to help students gain and share critical understanding of the environmental challenges of our time, including water and climate change.
Barnett has covered water and climate worldwide, from epic drought in Australia to groundwater depletion in India. She will teach Environmental Journalism and other courses; work hands-on with students to cover environmental issues in Gainesville and globally; and team up across disciplines with UF faculty and students who are working to help improve public understanding of complex environmental issues.
“In a state defined by water and already feeling the impacts of climate change, we want to help our students tell these stories in ways that make a difference,” said Diane McFarlin, Dean of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. “Geography gives the college a natural specialization in water and climate, and Cynthia can help us build it.”
Barnett’s books are known for engaging the public as they balance hard-hitting journalism with forward-thinking solutions. Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. won the gold medal for best nonfiction in the Florida Book Awards and was named by the Tampa Bay Times as one of the top 10 books that every Floridian should read. Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis was named by The Boston Globe as one of the top 10 science books of 2011.
The Globe calls Barnett’s voice “part journalist, part mom, part historian, and part optimist.” Her latest book, Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, is due out in April from Crown/Random House. She describes it as “drawing new readers to climate change – a topic too many people don’t want to talk about – with the help of the weather, a topic everyone loves to talk about.”
A long-time newspaper and magazine reporter, Barnett is a CoJC alumna who also has a master’s in environmental history from UF and spent a year as a Knight-Wallace Fellow studying water at the University of Michigan. After working with the CoJC professors behind UF’s capstone water-reporting course and frank conference devoted to communications for the social good, she said, “I was so inspired by the direction of the college that I wanted to contribute in the classroom.”