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Community Impacts of Oil & Gas Development


WHAT: On October 23 - 25, 2019, SciLine will host Community Impacts of Oil & Gas Development, an all-expenses-paid, 2½-day workshop designed to arm journalists—including those without deep backgrounds in science—with the knowledge and context they need to incorporate research-based evidence into stories about how oil and gas development is affecting U.S. communities.

WHY: Oil and gas development contributes to the U.S. economy, employs workers, and plays an important role in meeting the country’s energy needs. Extensive research has shown, however, that this activity also affects the Earth’s climate and poses health and environmental risks for nearby communities. Scientific evidence and context can add rigor to journalistic coverage of these complex tradeoffs and ultimately inform the choices that people, businesses, and communities make.

This non-partisan boot camp will include an opening keynote by Dr. John P. Holdren, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at Harvard University and former Chief Science Advisor to President Obama, as well as faculty presentations, networking opportunities, and a field trip to a working shale-energy well site. Academic experts from around the country will summarize the latest research and state of science relevant to:

  • Energy & Climate: Participants will learn about the current U.S. energy production profile and how oil and gas development fits into the broader picture of variously proposed efforts to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

  • Environmental Impacts: Experts will describe how oil and gas development can impact species, habitats, and local ecosystems, as well as what is known about potential risks for induced seismic activity.

  • Public Health Impacts: Attendees will get up to speed on the human health risks of living near oil and gas development projects, including changes in air and water quality and other potential routes of exposure to toxins.

  • Disparities: Scientists will summarize research that aims to understand how underserved communities are particularly affected by all of the above and by additional social impacts.

WHEN & WHERE: The workshop will be held at the Penn State University Park campus in State College, Pennsylvania, from the evening of Wednesday October 23 through the afternoon of Friday October 25. This is a no-cost event; all travel, accommodation, and program costs will be covered by SciLine’s philanthropic grants.

NOTE: ScienceWriters2019, the combined annual meeting of the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing (CASW), begins the evening of Friday, October 25, in the same location. Through a joint arrangement between SciLine and NASW, Community Impacts of Oil and Gas Development attendees will receive free membership in NASW through the remainder of 2019 and free registration to NASW’s professional development workshops during ScienceWriters2019 (most other events are free of charge).

WHO SHOULD APPLY: This workshop is designed to be useful to journalists who already cover or may in the future cover stories related to the impacts of oil and gas development in their communities. The course will be accessible to reporters without deep backgrounds in science and will feature clear, research-based presentations without preference for specific political or policy perspectives.

SciLine strives to increase the diversity of voices in science journalism. We encourage reporters of diverse backgrounds—including gender, race and ethnicity, geographic location, level of seniority, and other factors—to apply.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Community Impacts of Oil and Gas Development is offered by SciLine, a philanthropically supported, free service for journalists, based at the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science. SciLine’s mission is to strengthen news stories by facilitating the inclusion of research-derived evidence—with the ultimate goal of informing the public.

The course is hosted by Penn State, Pennsylvania’s sole land-grant institution, whose mission embraces teaching, research, public engagement, and service.

The course is hosted by the  Drake University School of Journalism & Mass Communication . Drake educates strategic, global thinkers with diverse media and communication skills and a solid ethical underpinning who are prepared to respond to a rapidly changing media culture.

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Space is limited. SciLine aims to serve journalists representing a variety of geographic regions, media platform types, and media market sizes.