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Week of October 7, 2013

New U-M online sustainability journal aims to appeal to broad audience


A team of doctoral fellows from the Graham Sustainability Institute just launched the Michigan Journal of Sustainability — an online, open-access periodical designed to make academic sustainability research easier to understand and use.

The new resource, which provides translated, peer-reviewed articles about a wide variety of sustainability subjects, aims to appeal to readers from a broad range of specialties and backgrounds, with papers edited to be intelligible to non-academics, concerned citizens and others reading outside their own area of expertise.

“This journal fills an important and underserved niche of translating complex interdisciplinary research into a practical form that stakeholders, practitioners and policymakers can use to better understand sustainability challenges,” said Don Scavia, director of the Graham Sustainability Institute, which sponsored the journal’s development. “It was planned with real-world applications in mind.”

Hosted on Michigan Publishing’s platform for scholarly journals, the free publication is the result of two years of planning by seven Graham Sustainability Doctoral Fellows from multiple disciplines at the university. Reflecting the fellows’ diverse backgrounds and the cross-disciplinary work of the institute, subjects covered in the first volume include climate change adaptation, environmental justice, green cities and hydraulic fracturing.

“This is not just another academic journal,” said Nicholas Rajkovich, journal editor-in-chief and Graham Doctoral Fellow. “The difference is in how it collates and distills cutting-edge research from the physical sciences, social sciences and design communities into a user-friendly format. All content is also available without a subscription, making research from the university freely accessible to the broader public.”

Paul Courant, director of Michigan Publishing, said the open-access aspect of the journal is critical.

“With a focus on translational research, we are excited to see the editors of the Michigan Journal of Sustainability embrace an open-access model for their publication,” he said. “This will allow their work to be truly accessible beyond the boundaries of academia.”

“If an environmental nonprofit organization or municipality is grappling with a sustainability challenge, we want them to turn to the Michigan Journal of Sustainability for valuable insights and information,” said journal co-editor Dana Kornberg.

New volumes of the journal will be published once a year, with articles typically fitting within three broad themes: sustainable freshwater systems, livable communities, and climate variability and change. Later this fall, researchers will have the opportunity to submit content to the journal’s editorial board for possible inclusion in the second volume.

Graham Doctoral Fellows involved in the journal’s planning and development include Susan Cheng, ecology and evolutionary biology; Tara Clancy, environmental engineering; Dana Kornberg, sociology and urban and regional planning; Erica Morrell, public policy; Nicholas Rajkovich, urban and regional planning; Brian Vickers, psychology. Also involved was recent U-M graduate Irem Daloglu from the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

The Michigan Journal of Sustainability is available at graham.umich.edu/mjs.

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