April 23, 2016


Midway through the 2020 spring semester, UR Slow Journalism students were forced into quarantine by an outbreak of coronavirus. Paul Salopek, under quarantine himself in northern Myanmar, met with the class by Zoom ln early April.

” is a semester-long course offered by the Journalism department of the University of Richmond in Richmond, VA.

The course is open to students of Journalism, Geography, Environmental Science, Anthropology, English, International Studies and other departments as space allows. This is an intensive seminar course, with off-campus fieldwork required, in which students develop their multimedia storytelling skills by using Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk project as a model.

Taught by Don Belt, former senior editor of National Geographic, this is the first university-level course devoted to the Out of Eden Walk’s ground-breaking experiment in digital journalism. Our class, like the Walk, is designed to explore the creative frontiers of Slow Journalism, a movement away from the super-fast, superficial coverage that dominates modern news media, and towards a more in-depth, deliberate, mindful approach to narrative storytelling using the latest tools of digital technology.

Students apply the lessons of Salopek’s project to a Walk of their own in the Richmond area. They learn to build compelling narratives using a full range of skills: story development, pitching, reporting, writing, photography, videography, mapping, social media, web design, and platform building.

Paul and camels

Course objectives are:

1) to build global cultural literacy through engagement with the themes, literary style, and factual content (culture, history, geography, anthropology, environmental science, politics) of the Out of Eden Walk, through careful study of the materials published during the Walk’s first three years; and

2) to explore the horizons of “slow” journalism in a laboratory and field setting, as students explore the surrounding community, then conceive, design, and implement multimedia narrative projects of their own design, based on the precepts and example of the Out of Eden Walk.

Salopek and his Walk partners (including the Knight Foundation, National Geographic, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Nieman Foundation, Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, MIT MediaLab, and Harvard’s Center for Geographical Analysis) have set out to change the way digital journalists cover the world—and University of Richmond students are pioneers in that effort, applying the lessons of mindfulness to their studies, their work, and their personal life journeys, Out of Eden, to the world beyond the classroom.

This website is the result of their labors.

For more information about adapting Out of Eden Walk learning resources to your own classroom, contact professor Don Belt.