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Cynthia Barnett Named Director of Climate and Environment Reporting Initiatives at the University of Florida

Cynthia Barnett, Environmental Journalist in Residence at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC), has been named director of Climate and Environment Reporting Initiatives for the college.

Cynthia Barnett
Cynthia Barnett

Barnett, a senior lecturer in the Department of Journalism, joined UFCJC in 2015 as a Hearst Visiting Professional to develop the College’s first environmental journalism course. In the years since, she has expanded student opportunities for environment and climate reporting with field-based courses and grant-funded projects such as last year’s WATERSHED and this year’s The Price of Plenty, both supported by the Pulitzer Center.

As director of Climate and Environment Reporting Initiatives, she will continue to build student immersion opportunities in the Innovation News Center, the College’s multimedia newsroom,  and in the field, including national and international science and environmental reporting experiences and in-depth coverage of agriculture, rural communities and environmental justice. She will work to build partnerships and grants for the College and public media WUFT News to help quench the region’s spreading environmental news desert.

Student projects from Barnett’s class, nicknamed EJUF, have won Hearst Journalism Awards for explanatory reporting; national student reporting awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists; and last month, the College’s first Online News Association Student Journalism Award for WATERSHED, among many other national, state and regional awards. EJUF alumni serve as environment and climate reporters around the country.

“We have incredibly dedicated and talented students who are keen to cover what’s happening to the Earth and its life, the story of their generation,” said Barnett. “With Florida being so vulnerable to climate change, I want to help our College build the best program in the country for covering the story and the solutions.”

Barnett also plans to expand UF’s annual Climate Communications Summit, which she cofounded in 2015, and professional journalist training for covering climate change and other complex stories. She serves as Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Climate Communications for the statewide Florida Climate Institute; chair of the university-wide Science Journalist in Residence program; and UF’s representative on the statewide board of the University Press of Florida. She collaborates with colleges across UF on projects funded by the National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and others.

Barnett continues to work as an author and journalist, focusing on both nonfiction and in-depth reporting for National Geographic and other national magazines. Her last two books, “The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans” and “Rain: A Natural and Cultural History,” were both named among the best science books of the year by NPR’s Science Friday, among many other honors. She has a new book underway on the global groundwater crisis, “The Sea Beneath Us.” The title is an homage to Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us.


Posted: September 12, 2023
Category: Alumni News, College News
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