FAQ: Minor in Journalism and Social Change

As of September 2023, undergraduate students at UBC can start taking courses in the just-launched Minor in Journalism and Social Change offered by the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media. This new program encourages students to think about and do journalism in the context of changing social and political environments and prepares them for the digital-communication economy.

It’s a great fit for those who want to publish and produce works of journalism as well as other who wish to reproduce some of its tools and techniques in other contexts. from public relations, NGO and corporate communication, as well as community support and development.

Why now?

In the last few years and in the midst of ongoing changes in communication technology, students at UBC have witnessed a global pandemic, a full-scale ground war in Europe, and dramatic social, economic and political disruptions here at home. Each of these events has been transformative. Each has demonstrated that facts matter — that we, the public, need verifiable information to understand the complex global and local events that have led to significant social change. The Minor in Journalism and Social Change aims to address such needs.

Is this the right Minor for me?

The Minor Journalism and Social Change encourages students to develop their voice as journalists and storytellers across multiple platforms and sharpen their skills as media creators and thinkers. It should be of interest to students who want to learn how to communicate ideas to different audiences. No matter what your main area of study may be – science, arts, engineering, business – it will provide you with the necessary tools to develop and deliver better stories and clear messages.

Strong communication skills, storytelling chops and a sophisticated understanding of how media works are essential to break into and thrive in today’s workforce, regardless of specialization. While the tools and techniques you’ll learn are journalistic in nature, their application extends to multiple professional contexts and career paths.

How is the Minor different from other journalism programs?

The Minor Journalism and Social Change is unique in that it’s based on four key skills: journalism skills; critical thinking and analytical news literacy skills; relationship-building skills; and understanding the role of journalism in, and its response to, social change. By skills, we are referring to fundamental journalistic capabilities grounded in principals of verification and social responsibility. As such, students will learn valuable techniques and concepts in gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting factual information to the public.

The program’s emphasis on combining practice and theory and its attention to best practices in covering a changing world – think of environmental reporting for example – make it stand out as a new and urgently needed direction in journalism and media education.

Who will be teaching in the Minor?

Professors from the UBC Master of Journalism program – which has been running for almost 25 years – have developed courses for the Minor in Journalism and Social Change and will be teaching them. Their expertise covers many aspects of journalism, including feature writing, visual and audio journalism, media innovation, international reporting as well as personal and community-based writing. Such varied interests will ensure hands-on training and a thorough grounding in journalism studies.

Who can register for courses in the Minor?

UBC Students in degree programs who are in second year standing and whose programs allow them to take a minor in the Faculty of Arts.

First years: sorry, but we look forward to welcoming you next year.

How many credits are required to obtain the Minor in Journalism and Social Change?

This minor will consist of 24 credits, of which 18 credits must be at the 300-level or above.

How are these credits distributed?

Students are required to take two 200-level courses that together add up to six credits:
JRNL 200 – Journalism Here and Now
JRNL 201 – Introduction to News Audiences

While both are mandatory, students can proceed to 300- and 400-level courses after completing one or the other.

And then?

You’re expected to complete 18 credits of upper-level courses. At least 12 of them must be Journalism courses with the JRNL course code. You may choose the remaining six credits from a list of recommended courses about journalism or social change. These courses are offered by such departments as Geography, English, Writing Studies, Sociology, Information Studies, Gender, Race and Social Justice, among others. The list includes additional Journalism courses.

What can you tell me about the upper-level journalism courses in the Minor?

Three of the four courses in this basket have been developed specifically for the Minor in Journalism and Social Change. All four address the key skills mentioned above in different ways.

JRNL 320: Multimedia Journalism is designed to help students develop the knowledge and skills to tell multimedia stories. It combines principles of multimedia storytelling with hands-on journalistic methods in information gathering, fact-checking, and ethical decision making. It focuses on the practice and principles of multimedia storytelling, including writing and editing for digital media, editing images, and creating factual audio and video content.

JRNL 325: Fundamentals of Community Reporting combines long-form writing and community engagement. It offers a mix of craft and best-practice guidelines for students looking to enhance their community engagement and nonfiction writing skills. The course offers unique insights on how to tell stories covering under-represented communities from a journalistic lens. The course also examines important and ongoing questions, especially in relation to power dynamics and representation.

JRNL 425: Journalism and Social Change Movements examines the role journalism and news coverage have played in major social movements in Canada and internationally. It explores how journalism has catalyzed, promoted, misrepresented, or even undermined social change through news reporting.

JRNL420: Decoding Social Media examines the challenges, opportunities and foundational research related to the emergence of social media platforms, services and tools as part of an evolving media ecosystem. It analyzes political, social, ethical and legal implications for media organizations, journalists and citizens.

I’m in fourth year and wish to complete the Minor by next spring. Can I do it?

Unfortunately, this is not possible at this stage as we’re rolling out the minor with 200-level only in the 2023-24 academic year. As of 2024-25, the remaining 300- and 400-level in the Minor in Journalism and Social Change should be available to registered students.

When can I declare the Minor?

Students may declare their Minor in Journalism and Social Change after completing 24 credits, as outlined above.

I can’t find an answer to one of my questions so who should I contact? Drop us an email at: jrnl.info@ubc.ca.

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