Currently, universities are places for learning specific knowledge to get a specific job to do a specific task until retirement. This is pervasive in the lack of cross communication and collaboration among students and researchers. Only very recently have academics rediscovered the value in collaboration and interdisciplinary discussion and research with movements like interdisciplinary graduate programs and open access.
Our vision for the Academic Journal Club is an open, welcoming place to rationally and logically discuss current academic research as it relates to broad topics that transcend university disciplines. The first result of this vision is to create a community of similarly interested and academically driven individuals across the university. This club introduces students to research both inside and outside their chosen field of expertise, and teaches them to interpret research in a collaborative, interdisciplinary manner. A second result is to foster an appreciation in students for topics outside their discipline. The club’s topics and papers are chosen by the members; however subgroup discussions and more in depth papers are encouraged and welcomed.
The Academic Journal Club also organizes and hosts a TEDx conference at the end of each semester. This event will share with the university and the community our mission of pursuing interesting research across disciplinary lines.
Our motto, sapere aude, is latin for, “have courage to use your own reason.” Reaching independent conclusions is key to the success of the club and the development of its members. We encourage every member to question assumptions. A corollary to this is the imperative need for civility toward each other and respect for each other. Our club encourages the notion of a T-Shaped students. These are students who, “are both generalists (highly skilled at a broad set of valuable things—the top of the T) and also experts (among the best in their field within a narrow discipline—the vertical leg of the T)” [Valve]. We encourage the autonomy of students. We also distinguish members by their ideas, their areas of expertise (vs major because a major is a set of minimum requirements and expertise is something that high achieving students would feel obligated to possess), and their accomplishments in research. We will avoid making distinctions based on age and class standing.
We host biweekly meetings to discuss topics that are sufficiently broad to encompass numerous fields of research, but are at the same time narrow enough to provide discussion for only a few hours. The first 10 minutes of meetings are reserved to let a student present his or her work or a paper he or she was particularly keen on followed by 5 minutes of questions and discussion.
The main block of time is for discussion of the interplay between the three papers selected by the club members at the last meeting regarding the topic for the week. We have not decided upon a time limit for the main discussion. Obviously, people are free to discuss the topic for as long as they want, but and official time limit is needed to structure the club and to let people know what to expect. This limit will also influence the narrowness of the topics we define for discussion. Laptops are welcome in meetings to look up papers and counterarguments.
The end of each meeting is reserved for selecting papers for the next meeting, and the topic for the meeting after the next.
Papers that members want to bring up in the group meeting should be posted online so other members have a chance to read them before the meeting. A short, high level description or analysis accompanying each paper is also encouraged.
Monthly, we invite faculty to present at our meetings. He or she can give a 20 minute TED style presentation followed by group discussion. This interaction will allow professors and students to meet and discuss research and build connections. Ideally, the club members will have the presentation slides a week early so members can plan points to raise and read relevant papers.
The Academic Journal Club mentors new students in how to read research articles and pursue undergraduate research. We mentor each other in what different disciplines actually do to further research knowledge. We connect professors with students who may or may not be in the same discipline but share a passion for the same research. We connect students with resources to assist them in applying for highly competitive national scholarships and fellowships. Most importantly, we connect academically motivated students across campus and provide a forum for engaging, academic discussion.
The Academic Journal Club provides professors with a pool of proven, academically driven students to draw upon for undergraduate research assistants and other academically challenging positions. We connect professors, faculty, and students by their passion for academics rather than their discipline of interest.
The Academic Journal Club creates a community to organize intellectually driven students across the campus and gives them a voice on campus. We foster undergraduate research through mentoring and connecting driven individuals. We encourage students to reach across disciplines to solve the large problems facing us today from many vantage points. Finally, we accelerate the university's goal of becoming a Top 25 public research university.