Students, faculty to launch education policy journal

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Photo by Chanoot Sirisoponsilp ’19

A new undergraduate educational policy journal will be launched within the next year. The journal will be primarily student-driven and will be written A new undergraduate educational policy journal will be launched within the next year. The journal will be primarily student-driven and will be written the intention of being accessible to a broad community. It will focus on educational policy that has a local basis, but that also raises global awareness.

The idea for the educational journal was developed about a year ago by Professor Edwin Mayorga and students, including Heitor Santos ‘17 and Medgine Elie ’17. Their plan for the project was to create a source of information with its basis found through the collaboration between students, faculty, and the community at large. They also wanted to use language that is accessible and understandable to those not heavily involved in the academic community and more accessible for students.

“I was trying to create sources for students to have conversations about educational policy that wasn’t talking down to undergrads,” said Mayorga. “I think sometimes research talks down to undergrads.”

Students have been heavily involved in the development of the journal and will be the primary contributors when publishing begins. Papers written by Mayorga’s fall semester educational policy class will be published in the first issue. The project currently has 20 participants, including writers, revisers, social media coordinators, and an advisory board, and will also be working alongside the writing center.

According to Mayorga, the journal will discuss a broad range of topics, including dyslexia, gifted education, and ethnic studies in grades K through 12. However, the range of topics covered in the journal will be primarily dependent on the interests of the students involved.

“It is focused both on local education issues and also national kind of issues and questions so that we are relevant both here, and having a positive impact on policy and discussion and action here, but also raising awareness about more national and global issues,” said Mayorga.

To facilitate this, the journal will work on being accessible to as broad an audience as possible. According to Mayorga, one main goal is that it will not be geared towards a solely academic audience.

“We are not hiding our work behind a wall of money, and we are as open access as possible so people can really be able to find the information and participate around student writing,” Mayorga said. “I’m really excited about open access kinds of publications… I think information should be free.”

The open process of the publication initiated a great deal of interest from the student body, and Mayorga was surprised by how many people became involved. One goal of the journal is to attain alumni involvement in the project, and provide a single place where people can go for information that is both accessible and intellectual. Typically, information has not been as accessible as would be ideal, and the journal will provide a place that people can go to for educational news by forming a student-focused center of research and expression.

“I think it’s imperative that we who have benefited most from our education system, having made it to a place like Swarthmore, now work to expose how unjust and how oppressive that system truly is,” said George Woodliff-Stanley ’18, who will be writing for the journal. “I think this project gives us a great way to do exactly that.”

Maria Aghazarian, serials and e-resources specialist at McCabe Library, will be working with the journal to help maximize accessibility. Aghazarian expressed that currently, works by disenfranchised groups are not always easily accessible for the general population, and that the formatting of information is often not user-friendly. The journal hopes to make changes in the overall accessibility of information. Aghazarian will be working on more technical aspects of the journal, such as formatting, to increase the accessibility of articles.

“I think it’s important to know that typical modes of publishing typically exclude undergrads, women, people of color,” said Aghazarian. “The whole point of doing research is for other people to build on it, so that’s why I think this will be an awesome project, hopefully with some longevity.”

The journal will be discussing many issues involving unequal educational opportunity, especially as it pertains to the effects of legal status, class, race, sexuality, and gender. Esteban Cabrera-Durán ’18, who will be writing for the journal, expressed his excitement to engage in writing about educational inequalities and considering factors that influence educational attainment and policy.

“I hope to work with everyone else to create a publication that is accessible and has some foundation on where policy change can occur,” said Cabrera-Durán. “Overall, I hope this publication serves the community organizations and people who are doing incredible work at the grassroots level.”

The first issue will be published within the year and will include four or five articles, with a call for submissions for the second issue included. “My hope is that more and more, I’m not the voice of this thing…” said Mayorga. “Students are and the research is, and then we’ll go from there. We’ll see.”

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