If you’re a J-school prof contemplating teaching SoJo, you won’t be the first. Almost the first, but not quite. Luckily, that’s a big distinction. There are a handful of intrepid and (dare we say) brilliant* professors who have already created full solutions journalism courses, and solutions journalism modules to drop into other courses.
And you can benefit from their hard work! These pioneers are sharing their course materials with us, so we can share them with you. Our first materials will help you construct a traditional 16-week course, a 10-week or a two-week online course. You’ll find syllabi and schedules, classroom assignments and discussion topics, and rubrics for grading and assessments.
You’re invited to download these documents and use them in developing your own solutions journalism course, or as modules to drop into your existing news writing curriculum.
Please send us your comments and feedback — and especially, your lesson plans and resources. We’d love to hear how we can help you, and we want to post your work so people can learn from you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* One of them is me — Holly Wise. I teach journalism at Texas State University. And I’m SJN’s university network coordinator.
Kathryn Thier taught a 10-week solutions journalism course at the University of Oregon in the spring 2016. Her course laid the foundational groundwork for “The Solutions Issue” of the 2016 issue of OR Magazine, a student-produced iPad magazine, available in the iTunes store. [syllabus]
- View the lesson plans for five key lectures and classroom exercises     
- In this assignment, the “Idea Memo”, students worked together to propose a SoJo story and provide supporting evidence.  [2/3]  [rubric] [rubric 2]
- Students were asked to annotate a news article and identify the “Four Qualities” that make a SoJo story. [assignment] [rubric]
- This assignment instructs students to use the Four Qualities to identify SoJo imposters. [assignment] [rubric]
- Students were instructed to annotate an article and identify the “Howdunnit” elements in the story. [reading] [assignment] [rubric]
- In the “Final Reflection”, students wrote a reflection in answer to a question they asked on the first day regarding the role of solutions journalism in society. [assignment]
- Students were asked to develop a rubric to measure the “Final Project.” [rubric]
“Framing Solutions Storytelling through Digital Narrative”
Holly Wise taught a 2-week online solutions journalism course at Texas State University-San Marcos in April 2016. This is the first solutions journalism course taught at Texas State. Students were introduced to the concepts of solutions journalism using the Network’s Toolkit, and working in partners, they produced a 90-second video on an assigned story topic. [syllabus]
- The student’s primary reading assignments were from the SJN Toolkit.
- Students created 90-second digital stories [Guidelines for Digital Stories]
- The class was divided into two groups and received their story assignments [Story Topic 1] [Story Topic 2]
- They participated in group discussions on the class Facebook page [Examples of Assignment]
- Students took quizzes based on the day’s reading. [Assignment Guidelines]
“Addressing Violence Through Solutions-Oriented Reporting”
This 16-week course was taught by Jim MacMillan at Temple University. In addition to supporting the introduction of solutions journalism into its curriculum, Temple University has made the unprecedented move to establish the first Steve Charles Chair in Media, Cities and Solutions, the school’s first donor-endowed chair. [syllabus]
- Students were instructed to write three stories and a final report. [Story Guidelines]
- Read how their work was assessed. [Metric]
At Arizona State University, all Intermediate Reporting courses delivered a solutions journalism module and students were assigned to write a semester-long enterprise story with a SoJo focus. Lecturer Maureen West, who championed this endeavor with the support of her associate dean, Kristin Gilger, delivered the solutions journalism lectures as requested and provided us with her Intermediate Reporting syllabus to illustrate how the SoJo story became part of the curriculum. [syllabus]
The Pulitzer Center offers this lesson plan. “You will be able to analyze how authors structure reporting on solutions to challenges facing communities in Haiti in order to create publicity materials informing your community about the best ways to offer relief.” You can register to see additional notes for this lesson provided by Pulitzer Center Education.
This kit contains the building blocks you need to build a solutions journalism course, including key lessons, lecture topics, exercises, discussions, and assignments. This Kit is the result of a convergence of professors and the Network’s founders who spent a day conceptualizing and creating this outline.
This is the Slide Deck that we use for standard Solutions Journalism 101 workshops in newsrooms. We thought you might find it useful in creating your course materials.