Polticus: A Passion for Politics
Troy Sherman is not your average student. While balancing a full course load and completing an undergraduate thesis in international relations theory, he serves as managing editor of an academic research journal – a journal he successfully founded and launched within a one-year time span. Aptly named Politicus, the journal caters specifically to undergraduate students and explores wide-ranging, often controversial issues in politics and international affairs.
The idea for Politicus materialized following initial talks with Sherman’s current thesis supervisor, Professor Charles Pentland of the Department of Political Studies. Realizing the paucity of opportunity for academic publication as undergraduates, it dawned on him: “Queen’s students are brilliant. They are able to write fantastic papers.” Sherman recalls thinking, “Why not provide them with an outlet in which they can be subject to a peer-review process and be published in an academic journal?”
The concept behind Politicus was inspired by the highly prestigious international relations journal published at the London School of Economics, Millennium, which highlights the work of young scholars.
Regular consultations with the Vice-Principal (Research), as well as the Departments of Political Studies and Global Development Studies, fine-tuned Politicus and helped secure appropriate funding. Additional financial support and resources were also provided by the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS). All four were instrumental in shaping Politicus in its early stages.
Launching officially in September, Sherman and a freshly-assembled team of 15 worked tirelessly toward publication. Seven students served as part of the management board, helping Sherman oversee day-to-day operations; the other eight served on the student editorial board, an important part of the double-blind review process. Over 20 faculty members sat on the board of referees – 12 of whom are professors at the neighbouring Royal Military College of Canada (RMC).
Queen’s and RMC undergraduate students from all academic disciplines were eligible to submit papers. As Sherman explains, “There is a great breadth of issues that can be tackled. Politicus is not exclusive to politics students. We have seen and engaged with students from gender studies, sociology, history, and global development studies. As long as the subject matter is related to political and international affairs, we are open to it.”
The first issue was published in March, and is available in its entirety on the journal’s website: politicusjournal.com.
Prior to the publication of the inaugural issue, Politicus was already well-received not only by faculty and students, but also by outside experts. Leading up to the publication date, Sherman and his team assembled a series of public lectures to spark discussion and help market the first issue. The speaker series has been widely successful, often filling 150-seat lecture halls. The five public lectures held thus far have addressed controversial issues in politics and international relations, those not given space to be addressed in formal lectures. Such issues include the “dark side” of international relations as a discipline, and scandal in Canadian politics.
Each event has included a small discussion panel typically comprising undergraduate students, faculty members, as well as outside experts. High-profile guests have already been featured, including Adrian Harewood, news anchor for CBC Ottawa.
Politicus received over 32 submissions for the inaugural issue, which then went through a double-blind review process. Sherman considers the process thus far a success. “Part of the reason Politicus has begun to take so well is that we do not conform to what is taught in the classroom. We encourage students to think outside the box, to ask difficult questions, and encourage the free exchange of ideas. That’s the purpose of a university – Politicus is a great way to channel that.”
The future for Politicus at Queen’s University is promising. Beginning next year, Politicus will be published biannually. Having expanded to RMC in its first year, Sherman envisions additional collaboration with other universities in the future. He hopes Politicus will continue to attract allstar speakers to be featured in panel discussions from highranking political officials to the leaders of change-making NGOs.
As for his role, Sherman is a big believer in yearly turnover. He already has a pipeline established. “Politicus is all about bringing fresh perspectives to long-standing issues,” he notes. Upon graduation, Sherman will return to Queen’s for a full-time position in student government, his other passion. Next year, he hopes to submit his own paper to be featured in Politicus.
(e)Affect Issue 5 Spring 2014