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American Sociological Association: Open Editorship Application Vision Statements
The ASA Committee on Publications encourages members to provide input by December 5 on the following anonymous journal editor candidate vision statements. (See the end of each journal section for the comment e-mail link.)
Member comments will be forwarded to the Committee on Publications for consideration at its December meeting. At that meeting, the Committee will vote on formal recommendations for editors. Those recommendations are forwarded to Council; Council makes the formal appointment of editors.
|Social Psychology Quarterly||Teaching Sociology|
My vision for Contemporary Sociology's role in our field does not dramatically depart from that of past editors. First and foremost, I believe the journal should aim at extensive coverage of books written about and pertaining to sociology. Ideally, this would mean gaining access to and then reviewing every qualified book—clearly, an impossible task. Contemporary Sociology does, however, have the capacity, both in terms of page allocation and access to a field of experts, to produce reviews for a great many of these books. In a recent "Editor’s Remarks," Alan Sica estimates that Contemporary Sociology currently reviews about 500 of the 1300-1400 volumes received each year.1 As editor, I would aim to achieve similar results, dedicating significant space to the "standard" (approximately 1000 word) reviews and continuing the current editorship’s practice of also publishing a handful shorter reviews (250-500 words) in the "Briefly Noted" section of each issue.
But the goal is not only to review as many books as possible, but also to make an honest effort at reviewing books that represent the widely varied interests of ASA’s constituent members. In an editorial introduction written 35 years ago, Norval Glenn wrote, "Perhaps more than any other sociological journal, CS has come to reflect the pluralism—diversity of theoretical perspectives, methodologies, specialties, and conceptions of purposes and goals—that characterizes American sociology,"2 and I think this statement holds true today (although with less emphasis on the "American" qualifier). As such, I would work to ensure that Contemporary Sociology, as much as it is able, serves as a reflection of the diversity that characterizes our discipline. Through the composition of the editorial board, the page space allocated to specialty areas, and a commitment to finding books and reviewers from all corners of sociology, I would make this commitment to extensive and representative coverage the first priority of the journal.
The second priority of the journal—one, however, that does not lag far behind the first—should be to provide a venue for longer reviews and interchanges about books or bodies of work. While there has been some variation in editorial commitment to these longer treatments, I, like the majority of previous editors, believe that these non-standard formats deserve a central role in the journal because they differentiate Contemporary Sociology from other publications, because they offer a distinctive outlet for critical argument, and because—at least when they are successful—they provide a singular resource for the sociological community. More practically, I would guess that these essays help Contemporary Sociology to attract readers and account for most of the citations that the journal receives.
For these reasons, I would mirror the current editor’s apportioning of space to standard and non-standard reviews. However, I would also like to follow the current editor in considering new ways to critically reflect on relevant material. In this vein, I would continue the "critical retrospective" essays. I have found these essays to be very enlightening and enjoyable to read; they offer an efficient means by which one can catch up on debates, trends, or fields of study that are outside of one’s own areas of expertise. They also represent a type of published writing—rather short and focused thought pieces—that is difficult to find in other publications.
I would also like to think creatively about how to expand the scope of these essays in hopes of maintaining the established momentum and drawing new readers. One idea is to ask sociologists who work on the boundaries between sociology and adjacent disciplines (I’m thinking of not only the usual suspects—anthropology, economics, philosophy, political science, and psychology—but also of fields that are becoming increasingly relevant to our own, such as geography, neuroscience, and genetics) to write essays about recent books in these external fields that are relevant to sociologists. Given the increasing demand for interdisciplinary fluency and scholarship, essays of this type would be of general value and interest. Expanding the current essays in this way, I believe, would remain true to the existing framework of Contemporary Sociology and, once again, offer an outlet for scholarship that does not fit well in other prominent venues.
In summary, I would like to reiterate that I like what the journal does now. In my view, it succeeds in balancing the need to be extensive and inclusive in its coverage with the desire to print longer, more personalized and dialogue-producing essays. Although I will likely implement minor changes to maintain the vitality of the journal, I propose a continuation of the current editorship, and, for that matter, the long tradition of editors at Contemporary Sociology, rather than a dramatic reimagining of the journal.
1Sica, Alan. 2013. "Mixing Past and Future." Contemporary Sociology 42:653-657.
2Glenn, Norval. 1978. "Statement of the New Editor."Contemporary Sociology 7:5-6.
1) Conserve Contemporary Sociology’ Strengths – Coverage, Objectivity, Promptness, Excellence in Reviewing, Commitment to Intellectual, and International and Demographic Diversity.
2) Provide Greater Support for Books and Authors in Times of Challenge Both to the Academy and to Scholarly Publishing.
a) More Books Featured in Symposia.
b) Summaries of Particularly Meritorious Chapters in Edited Collections.
c) Ability of Editorial Board to Nominate Books for "Editor’s Choice" – Books of Special Merit.
d) Continue Pre-Existing Policies that Maximize the Numbers of Sociological Books that are Reviewed.
3) Increase the Web and Social Media Presence of Contemporary Sociology in line with Sage Contract and ASA Policy.
4) Work To Increase the Intellectual, National and Demographic Diversity of Both the Books Reviewed and the Reviewing Process.
5) Promote the Contribution of Contemporary Sociology to Policymaking and Public Discourse.
Sociological writing is a kind of storytelling—empirical and theoretically driven storytelling. Or at least it should be. As practiced, however, most sociologists (and academics generally) do not tell stories; they report data. That’s the bread and butter approach of most academics, and is required practice at most journals.
Contexts is different, which is why we both love Contexts. It is a place where sociologists, and some non-sociologists, can come to tell their (empirical and theoretically driven) stories in a clear, concise way free from the dulling constraints of typical journal data reporting. The writing is crisp, the stories are engaging, and the magazine appeals to the wider world of sociologists. While we may subscribe to the top journals in our field, do we read them at our leisure, or for pleasure? Doubtful. But we do that with Contexts.
Like all the Contexts editors who came before us, we firmly believe in the importance of the storytelling approach. And like all the previous editors, we have ideas on how we can improve an already excellent product.
As editors we will work to improve the writing by recruiting professional writers (journalists, novelists and other non-academics), and good sociological writers already well versed in writing for public audiences. We will also have writing workshops at sociology conferences to teach people the skill of how to write in a Contexts/public sociology manner. This is of course in addition to the work of developmental editing all Contexts editors engage in with regular submissions.
We will add and tweak some of the Contexts departments. We will add "Fighting Words," a section where we facilitate a measured and spirited debate between two sociologists who disagree on a given topic—making the internal dialogue of sociologists accessible to our wider audience, and highlighting the broader implications of what might otherwise seem an arcane dispute.
We will also shift the focus of the book reviews. We will revert to having sociologists reviewing non-sociologists, or non-sociologists reviewing sociologists. The purpose of this is to broaden our reach of writers and stretch our reach of topics.
Also, we will change the back page to give high school and college students the opportunity to write short pieces of sociological relevance (something that has been done before in Contexts). This will build up our writing pool and our readership. We will also add an occasional K-12 focus to the Pedagogies section, at times soliciting K-12 teachers as writers. Again, this can expand the number of writers and build our readership.
We will pursue expanding our writing and reading pool globally. We have very few writers coming from outside the US, and likely few readers. This is an international field and we do research internationally. Our writing pool and readership need to reflect this.
The Contexts website is little more than print matter digitized. We will aim to add web-based sections, some of which can end up in print. For instance, we will introduce "Sociological Haikus". These will obviously be short pieces, and it won’t be difficult to have numbers of them up. We will publish the best ones in the print edition. We will also look for ways to cultivate writing talents of graduate students, for whom short pieces for the website on the topics of the day will be productive outlets.
Contexts has reached something of a crossroads. It is a very, very good sociological magazine. But who is it for? As it stands, it is a broad sociological magazine written largely by American sociologists for American sociologists. As good as that is, though, we want something more. We want this truly to be sociology’s invitation to the general, intelligent public reader. Working with the Publications Committee and ASA staff, we believe we can find a way to make it happen.
Co-editor background information
Both of us are the kind of public sociologists that Contexts needs as editors. We have records of writing and editing for broader audiences, in addition to scholarly publications. Our academic expertise and networks are distinct enough from each other that we cover a lot of intellectual and personal ground. We like each other and are excited about working together, something that will be key, as we will be working very closely for the next three years.
We embrace the opportunity to build upon the journal’s strong foundations and commitment to public sociology developed by the current editors and prior editorial teams to publish pieces that communicate to broad audiences the best that Sociology has to offer. We envision the structure and format under our editorship will be similar to that of the current editorial office, particularly with regard to articles of various lengths (regular contributions as well as “trends” pieces and periodic reviews). We would also like to explore the possibility of adding an additional section involving “quick notes.” This section would give authors opportunities to present findings in a paragraph or two and to provide citations to related works; the aim is to highlight pressing issues and then directing interested parties to other, relevant readings in the area. We believe this would be effective in pointing readership to core, relevant research streams within the sociological literatures. In addition, we will consider including a section on “sociologists in the public eye,” which lists the involvements and on-going experiences of sociologists in the public domain including, for example, influencing policy debates and public interpretation of important social issues through the use of sociological research.
Our goals for will be accomplished through a systematic and organized strategy which entails: (1) personnel decisions—selecting an eclectic editorial board and section editors who can best identify topics and prospective contributors and bring to fruition relevant pieces, (2) outreach efforts –maintaining a high quality website and engaging in collaborative efforts with other ASA editors and ASA section Chairs to best publicize the value of , and (3) content issues—ensuring the highest quality pieces that best reflect and demonstrate the role of public sociology in informing contemporary issues and debates.
We look forward and welcome the opportunity to meet the challenges of maintaining the high quality and standing of . We take great pride in our discipline and we believe we can effectively “put forward” the best that Sociology has to offer in contributing to the identification, analyses and interpretation of current social issues and disseminating them to a wide audience.
Contexts under the current editors has featured excellent writing about sociology for a broad, general audience and we hope to maintain the high quality of writing. Contexts has also evolved into a compelling venue for visual sociology through the publication of first-rate photographic work, another feature we plan to continue.
Recent issues of Contexts have covered important global events such as the Arab uprisings. Our aim would be to expand this global reach – encouraging sociologists in other countries to write for the journal, covering a greater range of global issues, and making content available to readers in other countries. As one strategy to include more international contributors, we would choose two book editors – each from different regions of the global south – and have them choose local or regional book reviewers. Such a strategy allows for a wider dissemination of scholarly work beyond the US (through shipping books outside the US) and it opens up critique of sociology by scholars outside the US. We would particularly like to focus on the transnational dimensions of debates within sociology that have traditionally been grounded in the national. Social movement and labor organizing, immigration, popular culture, and family are all areas that have important transnational dimensions as people travel across borders in search of work and maintain or develop relationships across multiple countries.
We are living in interesting times as sociologists, as faculty in higher education, and as citizens in a globally networked world. Changes in publishing, funding and expectations about academic career paths are converging with the expansion of digital technologies. In order to be relevant in these times, we envision Contexts engaging with the international rise of digital sociology as global trend in the field.
Partnerships between academic social science researchers and journalists hold great promise for connecting sociology to a broader audience. One notable example from the UK is “Reading the Riots,” a project run jointly by The Guardian and London School of Economics (LSE) with the aim of producing data-driven study into the causes and consequences of the riots in 2011 (http://www.theguardian.com/uk/series/reading-the-riots). In this hybrid space, academics and journalists will increasingly collaborate, borrow and remix methods from both fields, and at least potentially reach wider audiences beyond the narrow range of specialists.
From blogging to Twitter, academics are increasingly engaged in dialogue with wider publics that include elected officials, the media, and society. The digital era, changing economic models (i.e., increases in for-profit colleges, course providers and journals, at the same time there are decreases in state funding for higher education) are creating a new set of expectations about what it means to be an academic. Whereas traditionally trained sociologists may have once had the luxury of speaking to small audiences of specialized experts, this no longer seems either feasible or desirable. The emergence of digital and social media with its attendant fragmentation of audiences also means the goal of reaching a broad, general audience is more challenging than ever before.
Given these challenges, we expect to lead Contexts into an era of a greater reliance on social media, and social media analytics, to refine reach and build audiences for specific elements of content. So, for example, while entire issues of Contexts may be interesting for the sociologist who is a generalist in the field, specific articles, infographics, data visualizations or book reviews may appeal to more specialized audiences, many of whom may not be professional sociologists or members of the ASA.
One of our goals as editors of Contexts is to begin exploring ways to make the publication more widely available to a diverse range of audiences. There is an inherent contradiction in trying to do this for a journal that is only available to paid subscribers or those with an institutional affiliation that allows access. This limited subscription model makes it difficult to reach Contexts’ target audience, which are those beyond the academy.
Other academic journals are making the transition to more open access platforms. For example, the journal Cultural Anthropology is moving to open access publishing in 2014 (more about this transition here: http://thedisorderofthings.com/2013/10/15/what-does-it-mean-to-become-anopen-access-journal/). In 2011, one of the premier library journals, College and Research Libraries (C&RL) transitioned to mixed open-subscription model. In this model, the journal offers an online version as open access and a print version through a paid membership to the association or through a paid subscription to C&RL (more about this transition here: http://www.ala.org/acrl/publications/oafaq). Starting in 2014, the Modern Language Association’s journal Profession will be published as an open-access journal throughout the year and an e-book of the year’s issues will be published in December and available to members of the MLA. In our view, a mixed-model of online-open and print- or e-book subscription is the new standard for association publications, particularly those that aspire to reach wider audiences.
We propose to work with SAGE and the ASA to explore mixed subscription models for Contexts in order to make the journal more widely available to the widest range of potential audiences. In our view, a mixed-model of online-open and print- or e-book subscription is the way forward for a publication such as Contexts that seeks to find readers beyond professional sociologists. Such a model allows Contexts to both maintain a subscription base within the membership of the association while building an audience beyond it.
Contexts is the public face of sociology. The current editors have done a remarkable job continuing to expand Contexts’ audience, to broaden its appeal, to expand its use of social media, and to continue its tradition of creative design. However, even with its broad appeal, Contexts’ base readership still consists of sociologists and other social scientists who introduce its compelling content to students in numerous venues. Some might regard the fact that Contexts remains the most relevant to sociologists as a failure to truly bridge the divide of the professional discipline to a lay audience that would benefit from learning about what is going on in the world from a social scientific perspective. We disagree. The fact that the content of Contexts energizes the knowledge base of a broad range of sociologists, and other social scientists and knowledge producers who disseminate social scientific research, not only invigorates the discipline itself but also facilitates the flow of knowledge to a more general audience. Our primary goal as editors would be to continue to build a strong sociological audience and to generate more channels for the flow of significant sociological research to a broad array of knowledge producers. We would seek to continue and expand the generation of knowledge through 1) global sociological networks, 2) engagement with journalists and policy makers, and 3) in the classroom.
Contexts has been expanding its global reach. From the beginning, the magazine has published top-notch articles that deal with global content on transnational migration, globalization and global diaspora. Under the editorship in recent years, the content of Contexts has increasingly turned its attention to issues of global importance: India’s reproductive assembly line, sex entrepreneurs in the New China, transnational gender vertigo, the Arab winter, and global perspectives on the Occupy Movement. There has been a tendency in American sociology for scholars to think about their objects of study as universal and not particular to a nation, culture, time, and place. The increasingly global focus of Contexts challenges this propensity. In tandem with its global focus, Contexts is attracting submissions from across the globe, and thereby enlarging its readership beyond the borders of the U.S. We feel that Contexts offers a perfect venue for expanding our sociological imagination to include multiple perspectives, locations, and research traditions, and as editors we will use our substantial networks inside and outside the United States to continue this important trend in globalizing the content and readership of the magazine.
Contexts offers dynamic sociological analysis of current political and social events to extend the reach of newspapers and magazines, moving beyond description and answering the question of "why" local and global affairs unfold as they do. As such, Contexts should be in the toolkit of journalists, civil servants, and policy makers who search for information on important developments in social research. Likewise, one of the best ways for the general public to gain access to social scientific knowledge about "people in their social worlds" is through the media and social media networks. The mainstream media has picked up relevant research findings from Contexts, and the journal has done a good job disseminating important research to media sources. We as editors will continue to interface with the media to provide information on Contexts as an accessible source to learn about cutting-edge research. We will also focus energy on expanding Contexts’ website to reach a broader and more global audience.
The dissemination of cutting-edge research for use in the classroom is one of Contexts’ key accomplishments. We have used numerous articles from the magazine in teaching our undergraduate courses, and we have drawn on the many pedagogical tools Contexts offers. Contexts never fails to inspire. A good example is the short interview in 2011 with Monte Bute who discusses how, after learning that he had contracted a rare form of cancer that meant facing imminent death, he used this as an unparalleled opportunity to teach students about sociology from his personal experience. What a gem of an interview with such a courageous man to motivate teachers to think about the ways their own experiences might serve them in the classroom! A more recent article in 2013 offers a teachable moment for both undergraduate and graduate students to consider the ethical role of the researcher while conducting fieldwork or to examine more broadly the goals of social research. Gloria González-López discusses the legacy of exploitation that shadowed her research in Mexican communities where researchers from the north have made their careers conducting studies of local communities in the global south without thinking to give back. The magazine is full of similar gems. As editors of Contexts, we will continue this rich tradition of providing articles, interviews, social media, photo essays, and podcasts to animate classroom discussion and to impassion those in the academy to be better teachers.
If selected as the editors of Contexts, we hope to accomplish the following goals:
The visual design of Contexts is a key factor in its approachability and wide appeal. It embodies the best qualities of a magazine without losing its sense of purpose and seriousness. Contexts has from its inception been an approachable, accessible publication that appeals to a wide audience of sociologists and non-sociologists. The magazine has been produced with a signature style, both in its writing and in its visual design. As an editorial team, we would dedicate ourselves to crafting a product that is visually appealing to a lay audience, to undergraduate students, to journalists, and frankly, to many professional sociologists as well.
We both have experience working and teaching in departments outside the U.S. This has given us a unique perspective on the larger global context in which U.S. sociologists do their work. While we fully embrace American sociology and the institutions that have made it strong, we can also add the insights of non-Americans to Contexts in various ways. We plan to draw from our networks of international sociologists to complete the editorial board. We hope to continue and expand upon the tradition of Contexts to include a wide variety of global content in the subject matter of the journal. And of course, we can reach out to an international group of sociologists to author our content. We see our position as both insiders and outsiders to American sociology as a unique strength and contribution to the editorial vision of Contexts.
The diversity of the Contexts editorial board is key to its success. We understand that a strong and diverse board broadens the expertise in the subfields of sociology, supports cutting-edge research on the margins of existing fields, and fosters interactions between sociology and other disciplines. Our involvement with a wide variety of sociology-related institutions, both in the United States and internationally, positions us to recruit editorial board members to meet these goals. Our work in ASA sections, and in other organizations such as Sociologists for Women in Society, the International Sociological Association, the Social Science and History Association, and the Canadian Sociological Association, as well as in informal spheres, has given us strong networks in sociology to draw from a wide pool of scholars and experts in the United States, Canada and beyond.
Contexts boasts a website with excellent design: it is very approachable, and the content is current, accessible, and engaging. However, as a stand-alone website, it is detached from other websites that also offer excellent writing, interactive discussions, and multimedia content. We plan to bring more readers to this website, and thus to the magazine, through cross-promotion with other high-quality sociology and social science content on the internet. There is so much great work on the web, such as Chris Uggen and Doug Hartmann's The Society Pages, Theda Skocpol's Scholar's Strategy Network, and the various Digital Forums of the Social Science Research Council. These are conversations that we think Contexts should actively engage and promote.
We appreciate the features that previous editors have included in Contexts, and we plan to carry on with most of the departments as they currently are. Our favorites list includes in brief, in pictures, and books. We do have an idea for two new features that we would like to add under our editorship: sociology in the media and media for sociologists. The first would be short briefs of sociological work, quoted scholars, or relevant sociological content in the news or elsewhere around the internet. The second would include featured resources for use in sociology classrooms: podcasts, videos, film and music. These features would provide additional connections between Contexts and broader sociological conversations.
Social Psychology Quarterly is the premier outlet for scholars who approach social science inquiry using diverse social psychological theories and methods. Over the past 20 years, the journal consistently has published a wide-range of social psychological articles that represent this diverse field and from North America as well as Europe. We believe that these features are the hallmark of SPQ, and we are committed to maintaining its very strong and well established reputation during our tenure.
Many sociologists who may not consider themselves social psychologists do employ social psychological theories and measures in their research. Thus, SPQ is an important outlet for sociologists working in such areas as mental and physical health, emotions, race, class, gender, family, and culture. It also is the journal of choice for psychologists who wish to extend their work to include social structural influences. These additional features increase the relevance of SPQ beyond those scholars who work within the traditional programs and research paradigms of sociological social psychology: symbolic interactionism, group processes, and social structure and personality. In short, the journal’s location on the landscape of scholarly outlets is strong.
Our objective is to advance SPQ in three ways. First, we will work to solicit a wider range of scholarship beyond current practices so that the journal is: a) inviting to an even broader range of researchers, and b) contains content that will be of interest to more people, thereby increasing the readership of SPQ. We will do this by encouraging social psychological theory and research which focuses on a) current social issues/problems and b) the newest trends in research. Research might
include: 1) the impact of the recession on changing family structures (e.g., the increase in househusbands) and mental/physical health; 2) same-sex marriage law on relationships; 3) immigration and the changing face of social interaction; and 4) the effects of genetics and social psychological processes on individual outcomes (behavior and emotions) and interaction (exchange relations and group processes). To further this, we will contact scholars in different areas in the discipline who are working at the intersection of social psychology and these areas. We also will plan a special issue around current issues or research advances. Special issues provide an opportunity to build new areas and link
Second, we seek to improve the reviewer process. The current co-editors of SPQ identified this as a growing concern. While the review process can help authors improve their work, it is most effective if the reviews they receive are on target. We believe reviewers, both seasoned and new, can benefit from knowing the best practices for a good review. These include such things as: a) how to evaluate a manuscript along the dimensions of theory, method, and social psychological contributions; b) how to communicate one’s evaluation clearly and in a logical manner; and c) how to carry out the review in a timely manner. This practice should help the journal by improving the quality of published work, encourage productive collegial discourse, and facilitate good work getting published in a timely manner.
Finally, we will work to keep the journal technologically present. For example, we will make the journal more visible on such sites as Facebook and Twitter, and we will encourage more authors to do podcasts and short videos. We see the journal as a good teaching device in the classroom, so we will encourage the development of more articles for Snaps. We will encourage authors to find media material such as YouTube clips (such as Ted Talks) and websites, and/or class exercises that will supplement and enhance their research for undergraduates and for the lay audience, more generally.
In summary, our vision is to continue the prestigious legacy of SPQ established by the prior editors and to strengthen the journal in multiple ways. We propose expanding the substantive content that is published as well as capture new ideas that are relevant in advancing social psychological research. We think this will make the journal more social scientifically interesting and to a wider audience including the general public as well as scholars outside of sociology. We also propose improving the review process through greater guidance so that we can better ensure good reviews. Finally, we propose making the journal ever-present in our technologically advancing world of communication.
Processes of social psychology are embedded not only within dyadic, triadic, and other small group encounters, but also within organizations, cultures, institutions and societies. As such, they are germane to all social scientists interested in exploring how the individual is shaped by larger social structures, as well as how the individual maintains or changes those social forces. Although sociologists regard SPQ as the flagship journal of the ASA Social Psychology Section, and thus primarily a sociological journal, its superb Editors have made concerted efforts to reach out to any social scientist who examines the connections between individuals and their societies, with the proviso that micro social structures mediate this relationship. Scholars from a wide variety of disciplines now read and contribute to it. This has strengthened the journal itself and has also extended the reach of sociological social psychology to areas outside our specific sub-discipline. I aspire to continue this tradition of inclusivity first by extending bridges to all researchers who investigate micro-structural processes, regardless of substantive field or methodological approach, and then by publishing their best work. To me, the brand of “Social Psychology Quarterly” embodies the most eclectic and rigorous scholarship from social psychology. If I am entrusted with the honor of being the next Editor of this journal, I will stand on the shoulders of the giants who preceded me, and use their positive, forward momentum to foster a multidisciplinary journal that spotlights exemplary papers about actors and their social worlds.
Beyond question, there is nothing to critique, and everything to praise and emulate, about the performance of Drs. Cathryn Johnson and Karen Hegtvedt as Editors of Social Psychology Quarterly. I intend to build on their sterling foundation by continuing their quest to expand the visibility and influence of the journal. I will utilize their best practices, especially concerning their approach to the submission and review process. I also believe there are ways I can build on their work and strengthen the journal even further:
Visibility through Professional Avenues: To maintain and even augment enthusiasm for SPQ, I would frequent the special annual meetings of sociological social psychologists, such as the annual meetings of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interactionism and Group Processes. I would attend ASA Sections’ business meetings other than Social Psychology, such as for the Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis, Emotions, and Mathematical Sociology Sections, to make sure social psychologists in these areas remain informed about journal activities. I would communicate with the International Sociological Association’s RC42 Section and branches of the American Psychological Association, such as the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues or the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. In sum, the visibility of SPQ requires that the Editor to be actively engaged in reaching out to as many interested parties as possible because this approach will generate the broadest pool of high quality submissions.
Visibility through Social Media: To further disseminate information about SPQ, such as the release of a new issue and its contents, calls for Special Issues, or other news about the journal, I would use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Currently, SPQ has no Facebook page or Twitter account. I would establish these channels of information to broaden SPQ’s impact.
Engaging the Editorial Board for “Hot Topic” Special Issues: Twice during my editorship, I will solicit the Editorial Board for ideas about a Special Issue. We would then promote a Special Issue for the topic with the most votes. The Editorial Board consists of the most talented social psychologists doing trailblazing work. By garnering their input for two Special Issues, I will ensure that the Special Issues pique the interest of a wide range of social scientists, thus enhancing SPQ’s visibility, influence, and reputation for publishing leading-edge theory and empirical manuscripts.
The Grad Student Corner: I would furnish a Web space for graduate students, called “The Grad Student Corner”, which would house authors’ experimental procedures, links to public survey databases, appendices concerning derivation of mathematical models, question schedules of in-depth interviews, etc. These extra theoretical and methodological items disclose too much detail for publishable papers, but would be beneficial for training the next generation of social psychologists.
Two outstanding social psychologists have agreed to join me as Deputy Editors, and my institution unreservedly supports my bid for editorship. Together, we are all ready to meet the challenges and opportunities required to be enthusiastic leaders of Social Psychology Quarterly’s editorial team.
My vision is to continue to advance Teaching Sociology as the primary venue for the scholarship of teaching and learning, as well as the venue in which reviews and broader theoretical and political discussions concerning pedagogy, curriculum, and the centrality of teaching in the profession are made visible. As editor I would seek to advance the discipline by directing the publication of scholarship in the domain of the journal’s range of interest and provide guidance to maximize the development of high quality submissions. Key to the journal’s success is providing prompt review decisions to authors, and I would follow the example of outgoing editor in providing a fast turn-around and quality feedback to authors. The journal’s editorial board would provide “fall-back” reviews in the event that promised reviews are not fulfilled, or in the event that a manuscript proves particularly difficult to attract reviewers. The board would also convene at the annual meeting and provide guidance on particular projects that might be pursued. The journal will continue to provide book and film reviews, focusing on most recently published works. I would welcome the prospect of guest editorships for issues devoted to specific concerns and hope to publish two special issues on the subjects of “The Sociology Curriculum” and “The Use of Media and New Technologies in the Classroom.” I propose one additional new contribution to the journal: The Teaching Sociology Index, an updated comprehensive and searchable catalog of articles and notes previously published in Teaching Sociology. This catalog would be published on the Teaching Sociology website and structured in a manner so that future editors can update it upon publication of subsequent issues of the journal. In this manner, the Teaching Sociology Index would be a current and complete catalog, facilitating the creation/refinement of courses, as well as a means to document the frequency of publication of specific topics and concerns within the journal.
Teaching Sociology has a well-established mission and method that have provided teaching sociologists with useful guidance, insight, and advice for decades. I have no desire to tamper with success and intend to maintain the features that have been so effective in the past. Its three pronged approach—1) full-length articles on the scholarship of teaching; 2) shorter “notes” on teaching methods; and 3) web, book, and film reviews—has been enormously successful. However, I do think some small steps can be taken to make the journal even better. I see several opportunities to enhance the current model by expanding its reach and relevance. As you’ll see, I believe that higher education is in a period of enormous (and exciting) transformation. Hence the theme of my vision for the journal is: adaptation to change. I’ve included some specific ideas here that illustrate a few of the structural and substantive directions I’d like to see the journal take:
The “Tyranny” of Technology
I envision the enhanced integration of technology into the journal in two ways: 1) as an educational issue we must all face (read: resist or embrace) in our teaching, and 2) as a feature of the journal itself. On the first point, I think Teaching Sociology can move beyond web reviews and occasional articles on technology in the classroom to a concerted effort to attract more feature articles on the philosophical, interactional, and pedagogical challenges of technological change. For instance, the journal should begin and/or continue to address issues such as distance learning, ubiquitous tablets and smartphones in our classrooms, essay-grading software, and MOOCs because these innovations are appearing and shifting with disquieting speed and frequency. I would like to explore the possibility of including a recurring section on technological change in the journal’s organizational structure.
As for the incorporation of technology into the presentation and dissemination of the journal itself, I think the website can be upgraded to be more visually appealing, more interactive, and perhaps more useful. In addition, I would like to assess the feasibility of a new section of the journal (and the website) titled something like The Virtual Roundtable. If we don’t teach at an institution that requires peer observation of teaching as a component in interim and tenure review files, we rarely have the opportunity to see and hear how others actually deal with concrete issues. Articles and teaching notes in the journal only go so far. What I have in mind is a feature that consists of real teachers talking to each other about real experiences in real time. Topics can range from big issues of teaching philosophy, tenure criteria, and the direction of the discipline to such micro-level issues as time bank dilemmas, managing heavy teaching loads, handling disruptive students, balancing teaching with scholarship, and so on. Participants can be drawn from different teaching environments (tier 1 research universities, state universities, liberal arts colleges, religious institutions, community colleges, and so on). Conference call services (like FreeConferenceCall.com) will record conversations, which could then be transcribed to appear in the journal. Furthermore, the website could easily provide links to podcasts of the roundtables.
Teachers Without Borders
Since technological reach has transcended traditional geographic boundaries in our everyday lives, I believe the journal can expand its coverage of global/international issues in teaching as well. For instance, what are the problems facing sociologists who teach in (or teach about) high conflict areas around the world? How can we be successful in adding an international dimension to our teaching? A side benefit of this more deliberate focus could be an expansion of the journal’s readership. I don’t know what proportion of Teaching Sociology subscribers come from outside North America, but I suspect it is rather low. And since many of these universities are teaching-focused, there may be a vast untapped market to expand the scope of the journal.
High Impact Moments Outside the Classroom
The parameters of the college classroom continue to shift in other ways. Much of what we accomplish as teachers occurs outside the context of the traditional (or even the virtual) classroom. It happens in our offices, at campus colloquia attended by our students, or in exchanged texts, emails, and phone conversations. While such informal interactions can be “high impact” teaching moments, they are probably too disparate and ad hoc to allow for systematic examination. However, I think the journal can provide an important venue for empirical analyses of non-classroom learning. In the January, 2011 issue of Teaching Sociology a series of articles on engaging students outside the classroom appeared. However, these articles tended to describe outside activities that originated within existing classes. What I had in mind was an exploration of the non-class-related “teaching” that we all engage in. For instance, one area that does seem ripe for conversation is collaborative research with undergraduate students. We professors often use (or some might say, exploit) our students by employing them to carry out the aspects of our research we’d prefer to avoid. But what role should our students play in our research? What are the ethical limitations that arise from such collaborations? When do we trust them? How do we balance the responsibility to teach them while they serve as our assistants with the need to get our projects done in a timely fashion?
Old Dogs and New Tricks
Finally, change does not just occur in our institutions and classrooms; it also takes place within the individual instructor. I think it would be both informative and practically useful for the journal (perhaps in a special issue or featured section in a regular issue) to address the different needs and concerns of faculty at different stages of their careers (early-middle-late). Most institutions devote significant resources to the development of new/young faculty, in the form of mentoring programs, funding for scholarship, or support for teaching innovation. But what can and should individuals and departments (and maybe even university administrators) do to assist those at the latter stages of their careers? How can we invigorate the tenured full professor who has been teaching for 30 years? I think these questions are not insignificant since they touch not only on issues of individual agency and autonomy but on institutional action as well.
As a discipline we are fortunate that we have Teaching Sociology and the companion website as resources. Previous editors have worked tirelessly to create a journal that addresses both the need for strategies that can be used immediately while at the same time extending the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. In order to sustain the viability of the journal in the digital landscape, we will need to instill the value of scholarly teaching in the next generation of sociologists, challenge ourselves to push our own understanding of teaching and learning, and reach out to new audiences to demonstrate the value of these resources.
As editor, I would work to increase the diversity of voices and perspectives represented, develop scholarly teachers at all levels, strengthen the connection to the regional and ASA Sections on Teaching and Learning, and TRAILS, and broaden the outreach to new audiences. These strengthened connections have the potential to help us reach untapped audiences, continue the development of the next generation of scholarly teachers, and position the journal to maintain its relevance in the digital age.
Encouraging sociologists and other scholars to think deeply about the interconnection between teaching and scholarship has always been a core value of Teaching Sociology, part of its original charge. The current editor has solidified that connection, and no doubt increased the viability of the journal. My commitment as editor would be to carry on this tradition and extend the journal’s reach. By extending the reach I mean cultivating a broad publishing imaginary, working hard to surface new and innovative scholarship.
I believe Teaching Sociology can be located in the critical sociological tradition, a tradition centered in engagement and scholarship. My commitment to excellent scholarship and critical pedagogical knowledge(s) frame my deep vision of the journal editorship. I contend that the current period demands no less than highlighting the best scholarship and practices of transformational teaching. In this critical period of change and transition, globally and locally, I will focus on continuing to build a journal that commands our attention. The question for me is who is the “our” in the publication? The answer means tapping into the increasing heterogeneity in gender, race, class, sexuality and the multiple intersections that make up the practitioners of the field of sociology, internationally and nationally. I will draw upon a broad network of colleagues who are involved in the practice and scholarship of teaching.
I will work to reconcile competing interests between the various entry points I am proposing: the range of diversities, communities, scholars and teachers. This can be accomplished by extending the notes section and developing competitive symposia on teaching and critical pedagogies. The web, of course, will continue to be a promising source for building a journal that commands our attention. Innovation in 21stcentury teaching requires deepening the scope of the journal by bringing in new voices and perspectives including focusing on one of the major issues facing publications such as Teaching Sociology building submissions and subscriptions.