It seems pretty auspicious, rolling out a new political science journal for Boston College students right after one of the most dramatic and divisive elections of our time.
But the founders of Colloquium, which debuts this month, say it is not a publication characterized by quick hits and hot takes, or partisanship. Instead, they are committed to producing a vehicle for polished, thoughtful and well-researched academic work by undergraduates.
“We want good, quality writing that’s backed by documented sources, so we’re really stressing the need for citations in articles,” says editor-in-chief Cesar Garcia ’17, a political science and economics major.
“Some of the submissions we’ve received are opinion pieces, which really don’t fit the tone we’re trying to achieve,” says managing editor Anna Olcott ’17, an English major. “But we know there are many outstanding student writers at BC, and hope they’ll look to Colloquium as an outlet for their work.”
In fact, Garcia got the idea to start Colloquium precisely because he was seeking an appropriate venue in which to publish.
“My feeling was, it would be wonderful to increase the dialogue around political science-related topics in a more formal way,” he says. “Having a journal enables students to put their ideas and thoughts out there for reflection and discussion, and to focus on improving their writing.”
Adds Olcott, “BC has such an incredible political science program, and having an outlet for student writing is very important, just like it is for English majors to be able to publish in a literary journal.”
Garcia credits Karina Ovalles, staff and graduate assistant for the Political Science Department, for helping him get started and referring him to the University’s Institute for the Liberal Arts, which provided funding. Colloquium will be published once a semester and be available in high-traffic areas around campus.
The preparation and lead time needed to publish an academic journal makes it difficult to factor in late-breaking news or other developments. But that doesn’t mean Colloquium won’t be timely, say Garcia and Olcott: The theme of the inaugural edition will be climate change, and while the focus of the spring edition is still under consideration, Election 2016 and its impact is a possibility.
“With research pieces, you have to take a long view,” says Garcia. “Climate change has been a major global issue for years, of course, and has many aspects and dynamics to explore that aren’t necessarily affected by recent events.”
Political reporting and commentary itself became a flashpoint in an election campaign that did not lack for controversy. Despite the highly charged emotional political atmosphere, Garcia and Olcott are confident that Colloquium will be a repository for civil, informed writing.
“The Political Science faculty really tries to instill detachment in our work, and the importance of drilling down and reaching one’s own conclusions,” says Garcia. “From what we’ve seen, people are doing a good job of heeding that wisdom.”
Colloquium will be available via the O’Neill Library Open Access Journal System. A website for the journal also is in preparation.
–Sean Smith / University Communications