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Press Release: Journalism for Social Change

First MOOC of its Kind Teaches Students to Use Journalism for Social Change

Feb. 26, 2015                                              

BERKELEY, CA – On March 4th the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, Berkeley’s MOOCLab and EdX and will launch the first ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) focused on using solution-based journalism to drive social change.

The seven-week course, Journalism for Social Change (J4SC), will train students how to create solution-based journalism on issues affecting vulnerable children and youth. Through video-lectures, interactive games and writing exercises, they will report and produce journalism that elevates public discourse and policy. Exemplary stories will be published in The Chronicle of Social Change, an online news website dedicated to solution-based journalism on issues affecting children and youth.  Several past students have proceeded to write longer features as well, including an 8,000-word article on child exploitation that ran in the East Bay Express. 

“The goal is to inspire a new journalism, one that is resolute in matching problems with solutions,” said Daniel Heimpel, the J4SC instructor who is also an award-winning journalist, non-profit founder and the publisher of The Chronicle of Social Change. “The opportunity to teach solution-based journalism to thousands of students simultaneously is an important step towards this goal.”

The MOOC has its roots in a graduate course Heimpel teaches at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. That class brings together graduate students of public policy, journalism and social welfare who are taught how to produce policy-laden stories about child maltreatment prevention and intervention. While the subject matter is focused on vulnerable children, both the in-person class and online variant are easily applicable to other fields.

J4SC was one of three UC Berkeley courses accepted for a prestigious grant by the school’s MOOCLab. Another Goldman course, the Eightfold Path, won one of the grants as well.

“Nothing is more important than producing good public policies for children,” said Goldman School Dean Henry Brady. “This MOOC provides a critical opportunity to inject public policy solutions into the public discourse about child welfare policy.”

J4SC will be hosted on edX, a platform for MOOCs from top-flight institutions of higher education.

“Journalism for Social Change – the first solution-based journalism course ever offered as a MOOC – will be a unique opportunity for our students to not only learn, but to produce stories that will make an impact,” said Diana Wu, Executive Director of the Berkeley Resource Center for Online Education.

The Massive Open Online Course will be launched on March 4.

The California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) will conduct a research evaluation of online student’s engagement.

If you are interested you can watch the promo video and sign up for the course, here.

Daniel Heimpel talked more about solutions-based journalism with Governor Jennifer Granholm and Dean Henry Brady here.


About the Goldman School of Public Policy: The Goldman School of Public Policy is a graduate school that prepares students for careers in public leadership

About MOOCLab: The University of California, Berkeley MOOCLab’s mission is to stimulate and fund MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses), in partnership with edX, in order to improve campus instruction, stimulate research in online-enhanced education, and make Berkeley's brand and high quality materials available throughout the world. Research results are then incorporated into both online and in-classroom courses and materials.

About BRCOE: The Berkeley Resource Center for Online Education (BRCOE) is a full-service unit dedicated toward facilitating online education at UC Berkeley in partnership with academic units.  The organization is involved in the full spectrum of initiatives from open access learning to fully online degrees.

About CalSWEC:  CalSWEC is the nation's largest state coalition of social work educators and practitioners.

About EdX: EdX offers interactive online classes and MOOCs from the world’s best universities, colleges and organizations. Online courses from MITx, HarvardX, BerkeleyX, UTx and many other universities. Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more. EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT.

About The Chronicle of Social Change: The Chronicle of Social Change is an online news site published by a San Francisco-based journalism non-profit called Fostering Media Connections. The Chronicle produces daily news about child welfare, juvenile justice and children’s mental health issues. The Chronicle aims to be the hub of mainstream news coverage on issues affecting vulnerable children and youth.