Alenda Chang (Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara), Adrian Ivakhiv (Environmental Studies, University of Vermont) and Janet Walker (Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara) are Editors-in-Chief of University of California Press’s new open-access journal Media+Environment, which is about to publish its first articles in a special issue, or thematic “stream,” on the States of Media+Environment. Stephen Borunda is the journal’s Coordinating Editor.
UC Press: First off, welcome to UC Press’s open-access family, and congratulations on the launch of Media+Environment!
Editors: Thank you! We’re thrilled to join Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, Collabra: Psychology and the other OA journals in the UC Press firmament. We would like to thank UC Press Director of Journals and Open Access Erich van Rijn, Executive Marketing Manager Jeff Hester, our original Acquisitions Editor Dan Morgan, and Managing Editor Liba Hladik with whom we work on practically a daily basis, for taking the leap of adding a humanities-based journal. The concentration on media+environment, we hope and trust, will enable the transdisciplinary discussions that are fully necessary and that we are eager to stage at this pivotal time.
UC Press: It’s somewhat unusual to publish a fully open-access journal (meaning the “free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment”) outside of STEM fields. Why did you decide to launch Media+ Environment as an open-access journal, and since no subscriptions are necessary to access articles, how does the funding model work?
Editors: From the beginning of the project, we were driven by a sense of the significance and currency of “media” and “environment,” and a conviction that humanistic perspectives are underrepresented in such conversations. Making this journal widely accessible through OA is a core commitment.
Then, how to do it. Indeed, a good measure of invention is and will be required to sustain open access in the humanities, both for Media+Environment and for other emerging humanities journals. It is our understanding that open access in science publishing is already well along, supported by Article Processing Charges (APCs) that researchers pay to journals out of their grants and, we suppose, via other means. However, there are significantly fewer grant sources for humanities researchers (a topic in and of itself, and one that is complexly historical, social, and political and varies by nation or region). Also, importantly, we are committed to cultivating submissions from many different quarters leading to published pieces from junior and independent scholars and also from creative practitioners and activists as well as from senior scholars. To make this range of views and voices widely—that is to say openly—accessible, support is necessary. OA is a bit like “the cloud.” It may seem ethereal and free, but in reality it’s tangible and the subsidies have got to come from somewhere! We’re trying to figure this out: brainstorming, consulting, surfing the wave of OA.
In our case, we’ve been extremely fortunate to have the benefit of a base of support from UCSB’s Carsey-Wolf Center, thanks to Patrice Petro who is Dick Wolf Director and Presidential Chair in Media Studies, Associate Director Emily Zinn, and the fabulous staff. With the CWC as our main partner, we have guaranteed funding for a certain number of pieces per year. And then, more funding facilitates more “content.” Several other modes of support are: a) grant-funded streams edited by the grantees, of which we have two already in the hopper; and b) institutional partnerships, of which we are happy to acknowledge—and link to on our Sponsors page—the EcoCultureLab at the University of Vermont, the Global Media Technologies & Cultures Lab at MIT, the Environmental Humanities Initiative and the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts at UCSB, and last, but certainly not least, the Environment and Media Research Program at Monash University, Melbourne, led by Belinda Smaill who is also a member of our Editorial Advisory Board. Dr. Smaill’s early commitment to our journal was inspiring and generative; it made us believe we could really create an international network of support that would make this endeavor possible. We are also grateful to the Rachel Carson Center in Munich for inviting us for a short-term residency where formative ideas were exchanged, including with Center Director Christof Mauch and with residency colleagues Hunter Vaughan, James Schwoch, and Meryl Shriver-Rice.
And speaking of a wide intellectual network and of the EAB, we are thrilled to have convened an Editorial Advisory Board of stellar scholars whose collegiality and enthusiasm for the project has buoyed us from the start.
UC Press: If an institution or foundation wants to join the roster of Media+ Environment sponsors, what should they do?
Editors: Get in touch with the editors!
UC Press: Your inaugural thematic stream, States of Media+Environment, is on the verge of appearing. Tell us about this collection—why did you decide to start with a survey of the “state of the field,” and what does it tell us?
Adrian Ivakhiv: We figured the best way to launch the journal would be to provide a survey of provocative pieces from figures known in the field (and representing different places within it, both geographically speaking and theoretically), which would together lay out some of the issues and challenges that shape the field today, and that at the same time help to define the field. “Media+Environment” is, after all, an interdisciplinary and somewhat nascent field, one that is emerging at the intersection of some very vibrant and “hot” topic areas.
Janet Walker: Yes, and what is “a field” anyway?! I have enjoyed our shorthand method for referring to this first stream as “States of…..” States of what? An academic field or interdiscipline? An infrastructural media network? A corpus of creative media works (see Stephen Borunda’s interview with Mapuche filmmaker Francisco Huichaqueo in “States of…”)? States of land, water, air; or in other words, the elements (see the pieces by Nicole Starosielski and Yuriko Furihata in “States of….”)? Phase states of solid, liquid, gas? Speaking of fields, Media Fields Journal: Critical Explorations in Media and Space, launched in 2007 and continued by graduate students at UCSB, has been an enormous inspiration to me.
UC Press: Will all of your articles publish as thematic streams? And what articles do we have to look forward to in 2020?
Janet Walker: For the moment, our intention is to organize all the articles and creative works into thematic streams. Another great thing about online open access is the ability to add to a stream after the publication of the initial cluster. At least one more provocation, this one written by an environmental scientist working on low carbon energy systems and clean energy access in India, Indonesia, and several countries in Africa (we’ve asked him to talk about his media use), will be coming to “States of…” in 2020. Then, two additional guest-edited streams (in the external grant funded mode) that we are anticipating are: Energy Justice in Global Perspective (with funding from the Mellon Foundation) and Modeling the Pacific (with collaborators and funding from Germany).
UC Press: If a potential author is reading this post and wants to submit an article for publication in Media+Environment, what should they do?
Editors: Go to the journal’s web site at mediaenviron.org where you will see various open calls organized by thematic stream (we’re still accepting submissions for “Disaster Media”!), familiarize yourself with the Author Guidelines, prepare your manuscript and supplementary materials, and click the button labeled “Start Submission” (you will be asked to register for an author’s account).
Alenda Chang: Authors might also consider a new and kindred journal called the Journal of Environmental Media particularly if their work is more squarely in the realms of environmental studies and science communication.
UC Press: Thank you for your work on Media+Environment, and best wishes for the launch!
Editors: Thank you, and for this opportunity to spread the word about the journal!
Media+Environment is an open-access, online, peer-reviewed journal of transnational and interdisciplinary ecomedia research. The journal seeks to foster dialogue within a fast-growing global community of researchers and creators working to understand and address the myriad ways that media and environments affect, inhabit, and constitute one another. Founded on the premise that media and environment is a crucial conjunction for our time, the journal thus encourages both traditional and multimodal forms of scholarship.