Interested in the Environmental Issues? Professor Kovarik’s New Class is For You


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Yasemin Atalay |

A new opportunity for an elective class is now available to Radford Students.

For the first time, Prof. Kovarik is providing a Science and Environmental Writing class, COMS 407. This special elective is now open for registration for this coming up spring semester.

What makes this class special is how experienced Prof. Kovarik is in environmental policy.

Many Radford students know Kovarik as a professor in the School of Communications but prior to teaching, Kovarik was a former science journalist.

He wrote for Time Magazine, the Baltimore Sun, the Associated Press and a former editor for Appalachian Voice, Energy Resources & Technology, and other publications.

In addition, Kovarik has also served on the board of directors of the Society of Environmental Journalists and has worked with the SEJ to improve the quality, accuracy, and visibility of science and environmental journalism.

An issue that took place 69 years ago in Dorona, Pennsylvania consisted of a temperature inversion, which created a wall of smoke that claimed the lives of 26 people in Donora.

Kovarik worked with the SEJ board on this issue and says “This issue in Dorona, kicked off a global policy discussion about air pollution and led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency. That was the beginning of a movement to improve the quality of air in the United States.”

Recently, the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) organized a bus tour to visit the site of Donora’s former zinc works and hear a presentation at the Donora Smog Museum. SEJ sponsored the tour in conjunction with its annual five-day conference.

Kovarik added that the SEJ invited the U.S. Steel and the Pennsylvania Coal Association to attend the presentation in Donora but both organizations declined to participate.

Kovarik says the fact these organizations both declined to acknowledge the event in Dorona is a sign of the times we are currently living in.

“These organizations are now acting like there was never even an issue in Dorona and this is consistent in many other environmental issues,” says Kovarik. “I see future generations mainly focusing on environmental issues and prejudice against race and gender, which is why COMS 407 is a great opportunity for students”.

Described as a class for both science and communication students, this course will consider how news media covers, Climate change, risk communication, environmental justice Toxic chemicals, biofuels, sustainability, alternative medicine, pollution, genetic engineering, nuclear power, vaccines and space science.

“The class will involve going to environmental sites, student’s publications in environmental science and getting students involved in podcasts,” says Kovarik.

A quote provided by Kovarik explaining why students should take this courses by Edward O. Wilson says, “The defense of living Nature is a universal value. It doesn’t rise from, nor does it promote, any religious or ideological dogma. Rather, it serves without discrimination the interests of all humanity”.

 If you’re want to uncover the truth behind complex environmental issues, Kovariks COMS 407, Science and Environmental Writing class is the elective for you.