Major Initiatives

Major Initiatives

Major Initiatives

Atlas Lab

The College’s state-of-the-art digital media analysis lab officially launched in fall 2023 under the direction of inaugural Director Nathan Carpenter. The lab is designed to provide new learning experiences for students, research opportunities for faculty and professional tools for CJC’s immersion venues.

Over the course of the semester, the lab provided direct instruction in social media listening techniques for 12 classes, serving more than 240 students. Data generated from the lab supported eight projects, including two for the Center for Public Interest Communications, four graduate and undergraduate student projects, one faculty project and one ongoing National Science Foundation grant project.

In addition, the lab hosted three live social media listening events and watch parties for Gator football games and provided extra-curricular social listening workshops and training for more than 60 students, faculty and staff.

In February 2024, the lab assembled a student team to provide reporting, research support and event-hosting for a “Brand Bowl” during the Super Bowl and ongoing coverage and analysis of 2024 U.S. elections.


In March 2023, the College launched Sports@CJC, a major rebranding initiative, with the first Sports Collective Symposium, an annual event with notable UF sports media alumni discussing key issues around sports and society. The event also included the debut of the Sports@CJC Ring of Honor

CJC’s sports program was bolstered this past year with the hiring of two new faculty members: former Sports Illustrated co-Executive Editor Ryan Hunt in Journalism and former Marketing and Creative Media Director at The Draft Network Robert Judin in Public Relations, both alums. New courses and immersion opportunities include Live Sports Production, Sports Branding, College Athletes NIL, WRUF student radio show, “From the Swamp” podcast, and Reptile Report, a new weekly sports show produced by students.

Students also had a variety of new sports-focused study-away programs, including a weeklong immersion program as part of CJCxNYC, and study-abroad opportunities covering NFL games in Munich and Frankfurt, Germany, covering an NBA game in Paris, exploring UK football culture and, in fall 2024, a semester-long program in Paris, Madrid and Dublin.

Evironment and Climate Reporting 

Environmental journalism has become one of the signature programs in the Journalism Department, led by Environmental Journalist in Residence Cynthia Barnett, who was named Director of Climate and Environment Reporting Initiatives. Barnett will continue to build student immersion opportunities, including national and international science and environmental reporting experiences and in-depth coverage of agriculture, rural communities and environmental justice. She will work to build partnerships and apply for grants for the College and public media to help quench the region’s spreading environmental news desert.

As part of UF’s Strategic Funding initiative, the College will establish a Florida Environment & Ag Desk, which will help train student journalists in specializations including water, climate, farming and rural issues statewide — all in demand as newsrooms around the nation expand coverage of climate change and other environmental pressures. Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms, has awarded CJC a reporter to work at the new desk for one year.

Barnett’s Environmental Journalism program has produced a number of award-winning projects, the most recent of which was WATERSHED, a six-month investigation of Florida’s water quality to mark the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and the Florida Water Resources Act. The project, which found that Florida water quality is worsening, won the Online Journalism Association’s Student Journalism Award in 2023, the first time a CJC project has won that award, and received third place in the 2023 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards for Reporting on the Environment in the Outstanding Student Reporting category.

The College will also continue to co-sponsor the Climate CommunicationS Summit, now in its ninth year, which brings together scientists and journalists to discuss how to effectively communicate complex environmental and climate stories. The 2024 event, held in January, tackled how to build trust in science and scale up climate literacy.


The College’s New York program, now in its third year, is gaining momentum and popularity among students and employers, with more than 250 applications for this year’s opportunities. More than $60,000 in scholarships and financial support were offered to students last year.

Two programs were offered in summer 2023: One Week and Sports Week. One Week included visits by more than 60 undergraduate and graduate students to agencies like BBDO, Hunter, G&S Communications and the NBA. Sports Week included 14 students who visited companies like NBC Sports, Bleacher Report, The New York Times/The Athletic and Paramount.

Eight students also interned in New York during the summer, four of whom received extensions or full-time job offers.

CJCxNYC also created a fall semester immersion program, piloted in fall 2023. Students spent 10 weeks immersed in the media and communications industry in New York City, including nonprofit advertising agency FY Eye, local nonprofit Dominicanos USA, which is focused on civic engagement, and Cessie C. Communications, a Latina-owned public relations agency. Students gained valuable professional experience completing real-world work and projects for these organizations, and also were paired with NYC-based mentors across organizations like Amazon, Institute for Public Relations and New York Life Insurance.

The program continues to expand with a new summer semester immersion experience in 2024.