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Student Climate Journalism

In Apr 2020, Lucas Bleyle was a freshman at Purdue University. He published a front page story in their newspaper, The Exponent, called Purdue makes slow start toward carbon neutrality.

The newspaper wanted him to cover other topics, in addition to climate, but he wanted to focus solely on that issue. So he stepped down from the paper.

When we learned what student journalists like Lucas make per article, we realized we might be able to underwrite his passion. That's when David and Katie Harting -- a carbon neutral household in Westfield, IN -- stepped in.

Generously, David and Katie decided to sponsor Lucas's climate journalism for the fall of 2021. If it goes well, they'd like to sponsor him for another semester.

Our current plan is to brainstorm story ideas with Lucas. As the journalist, he gets the final say about what he writes about. He also gets the final say about what he submits to be published. Ultimately, The Exponent gets the final say on what gets published. But Carbon Neutral Indiana can participate in generating story ideas and connecting him to our resources throughout the state and country.

Lucas has four semesters left at Purdue. That's a lot of articles! Perhaps enough for a book when he graduates. One idea we've explored is analyzing Purdue as a particular example of a larger pattern. Purdue is a land grant university in a conservative state. As such, it has unique challenges decarbonizing. There are about 70 other universities in its situation. Perhaps Lucas's work could be crafted into a book that provides insight for other universities like Purdue. Who knows!

If this goes well, we'd like to connect other carbon neutral households to student journalists at other universities throughout Indiana. We could have a cohort of journalists, around the state, that meet a few times a week to support one another, share resources, and tackle bigger stories together.