Alumni Spotlight: Muriel Alarcón named Fellow of the Joan Konner Program by Columbia Journalism School
The Columbia Journalism School recently announced the 2022 fellows in the Joan Konner Program in the Journalism of Ideas, which supports reporting and academic research that explores the intellectual foundations and significant questions that arise from the world of ideas. The program honors the legacy of Joan Konner, dean emerita of the school and producer of groundbreaking broadcast programs that explored the most compelling ideas of her time. The fellowship, which grants recipients US$ 10,000 and faculty mentorship for the development of projects, is open to graduates of the Journalism School’s masters programs from the last six years, as well as PhD students who have completed their coursework.
This year’s winners are Chilean alumna Muriel Alarcón, JN’20, and Julia Shipley, JN’20, with the project “A Blouse in the Desert,” which will center on the growing mountain of clothes in the Atacama Desert in Chile, where huge bundles of waste garments from other parts of the world are permanently left. During their research, Alarcón and Shipley will observe the clothing cycle and explore the cultural forces behind the “death” of clothes. In their quest to discover how as a consequence of fast fashion, the Chilean desert came to be one of the world’s biggest cemeteries of unwanted clothing, they will talk to designers, anthropologists, ecologists, as well as other experts, and reimagine how future generations will interact with waste and the possible opportunities that lie within it.
Alarcón studied Journalism at Universidad Católica (UC) and graduated with an MA-Science degree from Columbia Journalism School. Based in Santiago, she teaches an advanced writing class and an editing workshop at UC, works as a research assistant in an academic investigation that's part of the World of Journalism Study, and is a regular contributor for El Mercurio and La Segunda newspapers. In recent years she has reported on Latino communities in New York as a grantee of the Pulitzer Center and Fundación Gabo, and she was a fellow for Columbia Journalism Investigations’ Global Migration Project. Her reporting on the working conditions of home health aides, published in September 2021 in the New York Times and supported by TYPE Investigations, recently received a Clarion Award in the online journalism category from the US Association for Women in Communications and has also been acknowledged with the Silurians Press Club's Medallion Award for Science & Health Reporting.
Julia Shipley is an MA-Arts and Culture graduate of Columbia Journalism. She received the school’s prize for the best MA thesis, which subsequently appeared in magazines such as Grist and Rolling Stone. As a 2021-22 fellow in Columbia Journalism Investigations’ “Hidden Epidemics 2.0” project, Shipley contributed to climate-health audio and print projects in collaboration with NPR and the Texas Newsroom.
The Joan Konner Program in the Journalism of Ideas, grants recipients US$ 10,000 and faculty mentorship for the development of projects. It is open to graduates of the Journalism School’s masters programs from the last six years, as well as PhD students who have completed their coursework.