January 22, 2009

Student Letters/Op-Eds Hit Major US Daily Newspapers

Chris Stevens

Chris Stevens

Communications Director

Center for a Livable Future

Screen Shot of Course Web Page

Work from students enrolled in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s “Food Production, Public Health and the Environment” course is reaching thousands of newspaper readers. In the recently-concluded course, three students took an assignment -writing a letter or op-ed-and had their work published in online and print versions of major newspapers.

John Berggren, student and research assistant at the Center for a Livable Future, had his op-ed, “Horrified by Animals on Antibiotics,” published last Sunday by the Denver Post. “Take some initiative on where your meat comes from, how it is raised and what the animals are fed,” writes John. “Write to your congressional leaders asking them to support legislation banning the use of antibiotics in animal feed. Support local restaurants that only source meat from sustainable farms. Food is an area where individuals can make a difference with their actions and prevent a public health disaster.”

Another student of the course, Jillian Fry, also a Center for a Livable Future Predoctorate Fellow, had her letter to the editor of the New York Times published in response to the article, “The Connections Between Meat and Climate Change.”

“Missing from your article was mention of deleterious environmental and health effects resulting from intensive animal farming in addition to global warming. An approach to address all of these, instead of just developing technology to control methane emissions, is vital,” she wrote.

Student John Rockefeller had his op-ed, “Avoiding Agricultural Meltdown,” published in Maine’s Bangor Daily News. “The current bailouts in the banking and insurance sectors should be redirecting our attention to a sector of far greater importance to our well-being – that which provides the most fortunate among us with a healthy and sustainable supply of food,” wrote John.

In the just-concluded course, 110 students were enrolled.  For a final assignment, students were asked to select a core concept from the course and write an op-ed to a newspaper of their choice.  “Students were encouraged to submit their pieces to the newspaper, but this was not required,” said Teaching Assistant Pam Rhubart.

The course has been offered for four years now and over 350 students have taken it. The course slides and audio are available for free via the Open Courseware program,

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