Giving Compass' Take:

• Students at DePauw University in Greencastle, IN, use solutions journalism to write about student drinking.

• How will utilizing solutions journalism help students understand social issues from different perspectives? 

• Read more about the human-focused approach to solutions journalism. 

For her first solutions journalism course, at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, this past spring, Deborah Douglas decided her students would produce a range of stories on a single subject. Just what that subject would be wasn’t clear.

The DePauw class was small — just eight students — and the culture of the college, being in a town with a total population of 10,000 and not much going on, meant that most students tended to stay on or near campus most of the time. Some of her students had gained experience by working on the student newspaper. Others, none at all.

The opening image of Learning the Limits, the student reporting project on campus drinking created in Deborah Douglas’ class.

What they were passionate about, it turned out, was student drinking on campus.

Word of the journalism class focused on student drinking spread quickly across the small campus, and a member of the administration reached out to Douglas to discuss the project.

The lead story in “Learning the Limits,” and the one with the strongest solutions journalism elements, is “A for Effort,” an overview of the campus drinking problem, as well as reporting on responses at several other colleges and universities from Boston to Nebraska to Australia that had met with some success.

“Solutions journalism is really all about exposure because it is purposing us to step outside of our silos to actually see what’s happening in the world,” Douglas said. “If people are not pursuing or finding solutions in a particular community, then solutions journalism gives you permission to go where those solutions are being sought. To find those experts. To find those people. To reflect the fullness of the approach to solving entrenched social problems.”

Read the full article about solutions journalism by Sara Catania at The Whole Story.