Overview of training approach
Leonie works extensively in the field of science communications training, giving support to journalists, academics, scientists, and civil society organisations in how to use storytelling and journalistic technique to communicate complex science accessibly, but with depth.
The training involves designing, organising, and facilitating training workshops, and doing one-on-one writing mentoring. Science Writing 101 is the training manual she uses in this work.
Training journalists in climate reporting
She has worked with journalists in South Africa and Africa to skill them up in the area of climate change reporting.
In 2010, Leonie was involved in two training processes with journalists ahead of the 2010 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Congress of the Parties (COP) held in Durban.
The first involved training developing world journalists in climate change reporting, ahead of the COP, through a programme hosted by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Danish International Development Agency (Danida), with the Nordic Agency for Development and Ecology (Nordeco) (August 2010).
The second involved WWF-funded training with South African community newspaper journalists in Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town, on how to report effectively on climate change.
Over the years, Leonie has also presented single sessions on climate change reporting at various journalism conferences, including at Stellenbosch, Witwatersrand, and Rhodes Universities.
Training scientists & civil society organisations in storytelling
Training has also involved working with scientists, academics and civil society organisations, in order to assist them to communicate their research to non-academic audiences such as policy makers and the wider public.
EPRU & EfD
Since 2105, Leonie has been working with the Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU) at the University of Cape Town, and the Environment for Development (EfD) initiative at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, to give communications support, and assists researchers to communicate their findings to policymakers and the public.
This work includes communications workshops and training with academics and researchers who specialise in environmental economics, and whose research outputs are designed to develop evidence-based policy recommendations to support sustainable development. She has done this through internet-based training with participants across the EfD network, focusing on the use of journalistic formats for reaching popular and non-scientific audiences with stories relating to their research outputs. She also conducts one-on-one mentoring with academics to assist them in writing development.
The Environment for Development (EfD) initiative, based at Gothenburg University in Sweden, has centres in China, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam, and Leonie works with researchers from all these centres, in order to developing their science writing skills.
She does similar training and mentoring with environmental economists at the Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU) at the University of Cape Town.
African Science Desk
Leonie is currently a writing mentor for the African Science Desk (Academy of Sciences), a capacity building programme for African journalists as they develop science-based stories from their regions.
South African Writers College
Tutor in magazine writing (online course), South African Writers College (2008 - 2010).
Presented a course on environmental journalism to third year writing and editing students in the Department of Journalism & Media Studies, Rhodes University (July/August 2008).