Skip to main content

Field Research

Available to science and environmental writing students at the junior or senior level, this program allows students to attend major scientific meetings as fully accredited science reporters, gaining real world experience. Students observe professional science writers in action and write their own stories about the scientific symposium and press conferences held at the meetings. Another segment of the program provides practical experiences in scientific research and science writing for students who work on and write about research projects directed by university scientists and engineers.

Annual American Association for the Advancement of Science Meeting

Since the beginning of Lehigh’s Science and Environmental Writing Program, major and minor students have attended the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that takes place in February. The trip is sponsored by the Department of Journalism and Communication as part of a regular course, Jour. 231, Science Writing Practicum. At the AAAS meeting, the students receive full press accreditation and have the opportunity to attend scientific symposia, poster presentations, and news conferences. They also network with science and environmental journalists, public information officers, and other science writing students in AAAS sessions, special meetings, and at events such as the Kavli Science Journalism Awards and activities sponsored by the National Association of Science Writers.

As part of Jour. 231, class sessions before and after the AAAS meeting discuss their experiences and writing assignments. Students write two articles from the meeting: one on a symposium they attended individually and a second on a symposium related to some form of science communication they attended together. Students often have different takeaways from the symposium speakers and this leads to interesting discussions.

Over the years, science and environmental writing students who have attended the AAAS meeting as part of the Field Research Program have commented that this real-world activity gave them important insights about becoming a science journalist and provided excellent networking for internships and future jobs.