Courtesy of Mia Miller

Philosophy Department prepares undergrad research journal launch

By Ryan Huynh, Oct. 19, 2021

Cal Poly Pomona’s Philosophy Department is launching the Undergraduate Journal of Ethics, Policy, and Social Justice and is looking for more students to contribute by the end of October.

A call for papers was sent out to students this month with a submission deadline set for February 2022, and an annual publishing goal of every May.

Mia Miller, a philosophy student and executive editor of the journal, came up with the idea to start her own research journal after being left unsatisfied with current journals, after being recommended to publish her papers by her philosophy professors.

“I had written a few papers for my philosophy classes, and my professors suggested I publish my work,” Miller said. “But none of the ones I was looking at really appealed to what I was writing about, so I figured, ‘Why not start my own?’”

In the summer, Miller and Alex Madva, an associate professor in the Philosophy Department, began brainstorming what would become the Undergraduate Journal of Ethics, Policy, and Social Justice. The two debated about the direction they wanted the journal to have compared to similar journals at other schools.

“We eventually decided that we wanted full student autonomy for the journal,” said Madva. “We also wanted to focus more so on the ethics and social justice aspects, as other journals are more about the theoretical.”

Courtesy of Mia Miller

Madva wanted to impart his expertise to his students, showing them what it’s like to publish in an accredited journal, and what skills they would gain by writing and editing a journal of their own.

“The transition from undergrad to graduate school is tough,” Madva said. “It’s a lot of long-form writing and critical thinking, so having experience with academic journals helps tremendously because your graduate papers and thesis will be published in similar peer-reviewed journals.”

The new journal is also taking cues from a curricular redesign the department has undergone recently to provide philosophy students with more career opportunities and outcomes.

Corwin Aragon, an associate professor in the department, recently transitioned into the primary advisor role and managing editor of the journal at the beginning of the academic year, due to Madva having to redirect his focus onto other projects.

Aragon outlined the goals of the new philosophy curriculum that emphasized high-impact projects, such as the new journal, and what students could expect to get out of a philosophy degree.

“When you think of a philosophy major you think of a dude thinking real hard by himself,” Aragon joked. “But we try to learn by doing and find real solutions to real problems instead of paper hypotheticals.”

Aragon hopes that such projects will help students become better listeners, learners, and thinkers and to be more in line with Cal Poly Pomona’s learn by doing motto.

“Philosophy has a bad rap when it comes to the discussion of job opportunities,” Aragon said. “But the empirical evidence actually supports the major by a higher number of students who move onto graduate school and professional careers that use the adaptable critical thinking skills that we teach them.”

These curricular goals and skills will be taught to students who choose to submit papers to the journal, with the hope the journal will be ready to go by the end of the year and to provide more opportunities for academic discussion in the discipline of philosophy.

Students can also apply for associate editor and graphic artist positions, with editors taking a lecture and lab unit with Aragon, where they will learn how to critically evaluate papers and give constructive feedback for submissions.

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