The Middle Ground Journal, 2011-2012. Prepared by Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor. Assistant Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN.
Special thanks to Professor Paul Jentz for presenting this summary to the 2012 World History Association (WHA) Executive Committee Meeting, and to the 2012 Midwest World History Association (MWWHA) Executive Committee meeting.
a. Innovation and Sustainability. The Middle Ground Journal, with an international staff and dedicated team of student interns, has successfully published four issues. Up to this point we have published every other week, with summer and winter breaks. For the next two issues we will begin to publish articles weekly and year-round. The journal adheres to the principles of innovation and sustainability. We seek innovation in the research articles, essays on teaching, and reviews we publish. For example, we continue to develop essays on world history around the world, follow-ups after a previously reviewed book or documentary has been used in a class, series of thematic reviews, reportage and timely essays from students and teachers, fiction that may be used in classes, and special projects that assistant editors and friends of the journal are developing. We also continue to seek to broaden and redefine the meaning of and audience for a scholarly journal, and participate actively in the organizations and conversations concerning e-publishing and open-access publications. Sustainability will be achieved by nurturing the positive relationship with our host institution, The College of St. Scholastica. This is accomplished by the strictly educational and innovative activities of our student interns, and by a sustained effort to invite different parts of the college to participate. It will also be achieved by our concerted international outreach, by our expanded review department, by our innovative student internship and undergraduate research programs, and by innovations in our collaborative efforts with scholarly conferences and associations around the world.
b. Articles and On Teaching Essays. We have more than enough articles edited and ready for the vastly expanded 2012-2013 issues and many items under review (See Appendix I). Several articles from collaborative efforts with scholarly conferences are nearly ready for publication, others will come online soon. During 2011-2012, I reached out to 33 scholarly associations and conferences, contacted all of the history departments in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and attended several conferences on behalf of the journal. A successful example is the journal’s role with the 2011 Midwest Conference of Asian Affairs – the journal was listed as one of three venues for participants to submit their work, and by my attendance I was able to establish conversations on future collaborations with over twenty scholars. I am also in contact with groups such as the National Council for History Education and others for possible collaborative projects. Student interns will continue to help me devise outreach efforts to area K-12 schools and colleges and universities, as well as to history programs on a state by state basis.
A committee tasked with developing protocols for promoting and reviewing undergraduate research, and developing a strategy for outreach to K-12 teachers, will continue to guide these areas of the journal's innovation (see Appendix V). I am in contact with the Council on Undergraduate Research. I will also join associations on undergraduate research, and groups for K-12 social studies and history teachers, and begin the process of outreach and collaboration. Accounts have been established with YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Tumblr, Wordpress, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and other Web 2.0 outlets to prepare for innovative multimedia components in future projects. I will work with editors and members of our undergraduate research committee to propose panels for future WHA and MWWHA conferences.
c. Reviews. In the first four issues, we published 10 reviews. In the next two issues we will publish over 40 reviews (See Appendix II). During 2011-2012 I have contacted 80 publishers and documentarians. I have placed over 50 books with reviewers all over the United States, as well as in Germany, Turkey, India, the Netherlands, China, Scotland, Belarus, and Canada. We have received over 100 books from Stanford, Oxford, Harvard, Routledge, Pennsylvania, M.E. Sharpe, North Carolina, Ohio, SUNY, Pittsburgh, Rowman Littlefield, and other publishers. We have over 60 books in reserve. I will place another batch of 40 books with reviewers by the end of September, 2012.
This organized expansion of the review section will enable the journal to maintain an internet presence year-round, and is an excellent way to network on behalf of the journal, the MWWHA, and the WHA with publishers, documentary makers, and scholars from around the world. Each piece of our communication carries links to the WHA and the MWWHA, and an invitation to join these associations. Many of the conversations on these reviews (with over 70 scholars around the world) have already yielded other potential collaborative projects beyond the reviews. Adhering to our mission to balance between teaching and research, and to innovate, future reviews will carry occasional follow-up essays when reviewers subsequently use the documentary or book in a class-room. These follow-up reports may be in other forms, such as video interviews with students via YouTube. Student interns will be invited to take a greater role in the book review process – from book selection, reviewer selection, to witnessing the editing process to the development of follow-up classroom reports.
d. Student Interns and Ambassadors. We have graduated our first group of student interns, and over 17 students have committed for the next year (See Appendix III). Our internship program is strictly educational – interns do not perform office tasks. Three of our graduates have committed to continuing to work on the journal’s behalf as outreach coordinators in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Poland, and China. In the future, I will develop a journal internship course that will be team-taught by history, global studies, marketing, journalism, and literature professors.
We successfully finished our pilot of the student ambassador program with Duluth’s Northstar Academy’s 8th grade class. Our student ambassadors assisted an 8th grade class’s semester-long research project on the Middle East, leading to research presentations by the middle school students that were attended by myself and our student interns. Because of this success we now have a very promising year-long cooperative program with Northstar’s development of a new global studies course (See Appendix IV). Our student interns and myself will be working with 2 Northstar teachers and over 100 students for the school year. We will collaborate on development of lesson plans covering global studies, geography, history, and other standards. All of this will culminate in the Northstar students sharing their research projects at a gathering hosted by The College of St. Scholastica. Our collaborating students will also assist the journal in developing workshops and Continuing Education Units certificates for K-12 social studies and history teachers.
Our student interns have also aided in the WHA’s online/social media reorganization, and I have volunteered my time with the WHA’s Facebook and LinkedIn sites (See Appendix VI). St. Scholastica Marketing Department and Marketing and Public Relations professors will continue to assist in these efforts. I will collaborate with our host teacher at Northstar Academy and student ambassadors to propose a panel for the 2013 WHA Conference.
e. Logistics, Host Institution and Marketing. The journal is fully funded by the College of St. Scholastica. The college pays for postage to mail books internationally, office supplies, and the cost of domain registration. This support also includes the considerable cost of IT – St. Scholastica IT developed the software, trouble-shoots, pays for the bandwidth, and aids in shielding the site from periodic internet spam attacks. In addition, I will continue to donate a minimum of $500 each year, in my parents’ honor, to cover travel and miscellaneous expenses for the journal. For 2012-2013 I am also donating $600 from my stipend from being a McNair Scholar mentor to pay for memberships in K-12 social studies and history teacher associations, as well as associations in open-access publishing, digital humanities, and undergraduate research. I have made a concerted effort to collaborate with our host institution’s relevant academic departments (History, Global Studies, English, Education, Philosophy, Marketing and Public Relations, and Computer Science), library, TRIO, McNair, Student Support Services, Honors Program, First Year Student Program, Marketing, and Admissions.
The St. Scholastica Marketing Department is paying for an online ad campaign on behalf of the journal, which will also benefit MWWHA and WHA. This outreach will be supplemented by the efforts of our student interns, and our continued efforts to outreach via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Academia.Edu, H-Net, and other venues. The College Advancement Department of St. Scholastica is spearheading the journal’s efforts to apply for grants, in part to help defray the cost of traveling to conferences, and also for the journal’s student ambassador program, future K-12 teachers and students’ workshops, as well as efforts in undergraduate research. St. Scholastica’s library staff will continue to assist the journal’s listings in important indexes such as the Directory of Open Access Journals.
For additional information, please see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm and https://www.facebook.com/middlegroundjournal