New U-M Online Sustainability Journal Aims to Appeal to Broad Audience

Friday, September 27, 2013

A team of doctoral fellows from the University of Michigan Graham Sustainability Institute recently 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,” says Prof. Don Scavia, director of U-M’s 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 first volume include such wide-ranging topics as climate change adaptation, environmental justice, green cities, and hydraulic fracturing.

 “This is not just another academic journal,” says MJS Editor-in-Chief and Graham Doctoral Fellow Nicholas Rajkovich. “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, Michigan Publishing, says 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 says. “This will allow their work to be truly accessible beyond the boundaries of academia.”

Co-Editor Dana Kornberg elaborates: “If an environmental non-profit 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.”

New volumes of MJS 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, School of Public Policy, Nicholas B. Rajkovich, Urban and Regional Planning; Brian Vickers, Psychology. Another fellow involved includes recent alumnus Irem Daloglu from U-M’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.

“We’re very proud of this team of doctoral candidates,” Scavia says. “The journal they created not only fills a notable gap in academic publishing, but also helps to fulfill a primary mission of the Graham Institute: translating knowledge to influence decisions that protect the environment and enhance quality of life for present and future generations.”

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