Earthzine Writing Fellowship

What to expect from our 2017 Summer Writing Fellowship

NOAA Okeanos’s ROV collected a sample of stalked crinoid in Phoenix Island Protected Area. Image Credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

We have better maps of Mars and the moon than of our own home planet — 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, which poses unique challenges for exploration and imaging. As ambassador for all things ocean-related, IEEE Earthzine staff are thrilled to announce that we’re partnering with Shell Ocean Discovery xPrize to deliver stories that engage the public with ocean exploration and highlight the technologies currently in development to deliver us to places we’ve never been before, right here on Earth.

Writing Fellowship participants will develop, write, and publish a series of articles focused ocean research, technology and exploration. Additionally, stories can include anything connected to the competition such as profiles of the teams, the technologies, the people, the competition, or the challenges and processes of ocean imaging. With 21 teams from 25 countries competing, there are countless stories to be told, and it will be up to Writing Fellows to find the big idea and run with it! Multimedia works, traditional journalism-focused writing, and technical papers are all encouraged.

Why is Earthzine mentoring writers?

Significant scholarship suggests that mentoring is integral in developing in one’s career, and writing is no exception to this rule. From medical (Flaherty, 2016) to legal (Kawalski, 2011) to creative writing – early career writers perform better when mentors are available to share best practices and guide the development of instincts that will serve the writer for the long haul.

Fostering opportunities for growth and training among young professionals is an important activity for IEEE Earthzine. In 2015, thanks to support from NASA’s Applied Sciences Program and IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society, the Writing Club was established to build capacity among students and early-career science professionals for communicating the benefits of using Earth information to support decision-making. With its Writing Club, IEEE Earthzine hoped to encourage and develop aspiring writers who are interested in Earth observation and scientific communication. After a successful first run of the club in the fall of 2015, the club conducted a summer session in 2016.

In 2017, the club was renamed the Earthzine Writing Fellowship to better reflect the professional development and career mentoring the program successfully provides.

How does it work?

The 10-week, online program includes a series of workshops and presentations led by professional writers and experts from the scientific community. Weekly readings, presentations, and activities focus on developing the skills needed to find story ideas, conduct research, interview sources, write articles, and move through the editorial process toward publication.

In addition to required coursework and discussions, which are facilitated remotely, IEEE Earthzine volunteers and staff provide one-on-one mentorship on the writing and peer review process to help participants reach the final goal: publication.

Participants are awarded a $200 honorarium for successfully participating in this rigorous program, which is conducted much like an upper division college-level course. Students are expected to provide meaningful peer feedback and show growth in their writing skills over the course of the program. The 2017 honorarium is sponsored by Shell Ocean Discovery xPrize — IEEE Earthzine is grateful for their generous support of our Writing Fellowship!