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Crossing the Digital Divide  

Photo of the Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations editorial board.In the pursuit of knowledge, international relations scholars regularly conduct research on a variety of topics across the globe, seeking to explain the phenomena that drive the interactions between countries, ethnic groups, and passionate individuals. However, merely producing the research is not enough; scholars desire a diffusion of their ideas among their peers and throughout society to serve as a catalyst for conversation and change. To this end, international academic journals have provided a platform for paradigm shifting concepts to be critiqued, published, and considered by the scholarly community. At the School of Diplomacy, one of the ways in which we contribute to the field is by through the creation our own semi-annual academic journal, highlighting the work of leaders throughout international relations in a single publication that is distributed to subscribers and universities throughout the country. Big things are on the horizon for our Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations. This spring, the Journal will transition from a print to a digital format, allowing new audiences access to the theories and conclusions posed by its contributing authors.

After launching its inaugural issue in the fall of 2000, the Journal has published nineteen volumes on topics affecting the study and practice of diplomacy. The editorial teams have compiled issues on the Arab Spring, the relationship between energy markets and security, and the policy implications of climate change. Equally as remarkable as the breadth of research offered by the Journal is its entirely student run Editorial Board. Current Editor-in-Chief Dennis Meaney, believes that the staff rise to the challenge of this enormous task because of an underlying "passion for academia and international relations." In his case, Dennis noticed early on in his tenure with the Journal that he enjoyed engaging with the authors about their research. He recalls a particular exchange, prior to assuming his role as Editor-in-Chief, in which a professor specializing in Russian History explained why they believed that armed conflict in the Baltics was not as likely as many perceived it to be. Hearing this contrarian take on a popular issue in diplomacy first-hand excited Dennis, and the prospect of future exchanges of this nature inspired him to take on a larger role in the publication.

To prepare for the print to online transition, Dennis has participated in website management training, and has been working with University staff throughout campus to devise the best delivery methods for the new digital Journal. In addition to Dennis' efforts on the technological side, members of the Editorial Board have been working to guarantee that both the Journal's webpage and its social media channels are consistently populated with current affairs news and analysis. This work is critical in Dennis' eyes as it ensures that the Journal's audience always has fresh content – from both a scholar and a student perspective - to engage with.

The work of the Editorial Board has seen a definitive shift as the Journal transitions from a print publication to being housed wholly online. Dennis acknowledges that certain challenges remain: overcoming technical limitations and learning curves, further expanding the Journal social media presence, and more. However, he and his staff are motivated by a future-oriented approach. More and more academic publications seek a home on the world wide web as the increasingly available internet provides crucial access to new locations and even wider audiences around the globe. Placing itself among the many publications embracing online hosting, the Journal is making strides to remain ahead of the curve, rather than stuck in the past.

The prevalent use of the digital space to share content has created a societal expectation that all information is simply a click away. For those seeking advanced analysis of today's most pressing international issues, being able to access the Journal's vast collection of research instantly creates the opportunity to gain an extensive array of knowledge from well-known experts. In its twentieth year, the School of Diplomacy continues to strive toward innovation, both in the study and practice of diplomacy. The journey of our student led Journal into the digital world is a manifestation of this continued mission, exploring new frontiers that can fuel more productive research and collaborations.

Categories: Nation and World

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