Why You Should Read The Science in Society Review

We live in a digital world. Students now come to college campuses armed with smartphones and laptops, more likely than ever to share news and updates through social media. Many print publications nationwide have been on the decline for years. Yet according to Bill Krueger from The Poynter Institute, most students still turn to print publications for campus news.

SISR fall 2012 cover

The cover, designed by Katrina Machado of Brown University, “illustrates a choice, from Navajo folklore, between sustenance and destruction.” Source: The Science in Society Review

The Triple Helix, which operates this blog website, is also no stranger to print publishing. The organization’s print journal, The Science in Society Review, continues to thrive, with an average of 600 copies distributed semiannually in each of our participating chapters. Although distinct editorial boards operate the online and print publications independently, we are all united by The Triple Helix’s commitment to the interdisciplinary exploration of science, society, and law.

To honor the work of our colleagues, The Triple Helix Online will share excerpts from our sister publication. Throughout the rest of this week, this blog will feature the perspectives of The Science in Society Review on issues including sexuality, online protests, and wisdom teeth removal. Of course, if you are on the campus of a participating university, you may read the full version of these articles by picking up a print journal. Not only would you have access to all of the other student contributions to The Science in Society Review, but you would also experience the content in their original context of print media, with careful attention given to design and presentation.

For example, consider the most recent issue of The Science in Society Review. On the cover, the editors use an artistic representation of Navajo folklore to illustrate the journal’s featured article, “Nuclear Sovereignty: Radioactive Waste Dumping and Native Lands”. Nuclear warning symbols are interspersed with the Native American imagery, representing an intriguing move on the part of the editors. Images of indigenous culture in the media have been controversial, including those in fashion design. Even 20 years ago, ethicist Michael K. Green raised concerns that such depictions “depend upon an underlying conception of Native Americans that denies that they are human beings”. Despite cultural caricatures, Native Americans have fought to now have a greater voice in public policy.

The design choices of The Science in Society Review illustrate a case of cultural insensitivity not on the part of the publication itself, but rather on the part of the US government. They invite the reader to challenge a system of environmental policies that hinder the political aspirations of Native Americans, along with a set of cultural norms that use caricatures to misrepresent indigenous society. More broadly, they demonstrate to the reader that society, legal institutions, and science policy are often intertwined. Surely it is no coincidence that it is the mission of The Triple Helix to study this interdisciplinary relationship.

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Vicki Yang and Deborah Olaleye, managing editors for The Triple Helix Online, read their copies of The Science in Society Review at the University of Chicago. Source: Andrew Kam, Senior Production Editor

Design and presentation are crucial elements of any publication, whether on print or electronic media. But as Chicago Tribune managing editor Joe Knowles explained last May to student journalists at the University of Chicago, print publications have the added sense of validation, permanence, and cohesion. It is a product that readers physically interact with. They touch it, they fold it, they write notes on it. In another sense, a print publication is a piece of art. Ideas and images are presented side-by-side or one after another, using space and sequence to express a theme that engages the reader. Through bold headlines and imagery, the cover page draws the reader’s attention to the content and establishes the tone for the rest of the publication. A print publication collects the varied thoughts of its staff writers, and then it combines those ideas to form a collective voice that provokes conversation among its community of staff and readers.

By posting excerpts of these print articles on The Triple Helix Online, we invite our readers at participating universities to do more than simply pick up a copy of The Science in Society Review. Spark your curiosity by gazing at the cover page for a few seconds. Learn from the insights of student writers as you read through densely packed text and images. Explore the broader themes of science in society as you move from one article to another, fingers flipping through the glossy pages.  By doing this, you are helping The Triple Helix keep The Science in Society Review thriving for many years to come.

This article was written by the editorial board of The Triple Helix Online. Excerpts from selected journal articles will be published throughout the rest of the week.