Who “Owns” Information when Environmental and Corporate Interests Clash?

In this post, Daniel Bourgault, professor and researcher of physical oceanography at Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski in Quebec, Canada, talks about the difficulties environmental researchers can run into when commercial interests withhold environmental data.

Professor Bourgault, you recently published the article “Commercially Sensitive” Environmental Data: A Case Study of Oil Seep Claims for the Old Harry Prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada in UC Press’s new journal Case Studies in the Environment. So tell us, is there a big, natural oil seep in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence?

DB: We don’t really know, but it would be surprising that there would be significant amounts of oil naturally seeping out of the seafloor of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Example of oil slicks (these, in the Gulf of Mexico), as seen by satellite. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The Gulf of St. Lawrence has been studied and monitored for many decades by oceanographers, including chemists, geologists, biologists and physicists. If oceanographers had ever found any indications or had serious suspicions of the presence of natural oil in the seawater of the Gulf of St. Lawrence it would certainly have been reported. Yet, there is nothing in the scientific literature that points at any such evidence. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, so the possibility cannot be completely ruled out either. The only indications we have are provided by the oil company Corridor Resources who have been stating for about the last 15 years in their publicly available annual reports that they have indications from satellite images that there are six sites around the Old Harry prospect that would naturally and permanently seep oil. Under some circumstances, satellite images may indeed reveal the presence of oil at the sea surface. Think for example of large incidents such as the Deep Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico where surface oil slicks could easily be detected from space. In some cases, the oil detected from satellite images could also come from natural seafloor seeps if the oil is light enough to float all the way to the sea surface and if the amount released is large enough to be detected by satellite images. However, while this information might be credible, it cannot be independently verified since the satellite data and analyses that Corridor Resources hold are kept secret in the name of “commercial sensitivity”. Unambiguously identifying oil seeps from satellite images is not a trivial task by itself. Plus, determining the source of the seeps and whether the source is natural or not is really difficult and can rarely be done with satellite images only. So we are puzzled as to how Corridor Resources could have concluded that there were six oil seeps around the Old Harry prospect based only on an analysis of satellite images.

What does it mean when data is “commercially sensitive?”

DB: The specific meaning of this expression varies from state to state, and it depends on how it is defined in laws and case law. But in general, it means that the industry, or government, considers that publicly disclosing the information may result in a material loss to, or a prejudice to its competitive position. Basically, it implies that the potential harm resulting from the disclosure outweighs the public interest in making the disclosure. In our case study, it’s not clear to us why the information is judged to be commercially sensitive by Corridor Resources or Airbus Defence and Space (i.e. the consultant who actually carried out the analyses and provided the data). What appears to us to be paradoxical is that Corridor Resources publicly discloses the main conclusion of their private study, i.e. that they have apparently found evidence that there are six persistent oil seep sites around the Old Harry prospect (they’ve even presented a map of the location of those six seeps), but can decline to – and indeed cannot be forced to – present the data and analyses that support this conclusion. We wonder what material loss or prejudice could result from presenting the data and the method that the conclusions wouldn’t already? One possibility could be that Corridor may lose potential investments and take a hit on their share value if the conclusion is demonstrated as false or weak.

From an environmental point of view, the information about whether or not the Gulf of St. Lawrence naturally seeps oil is fundamental to know. Such information is needed in order to construct a reliable baseline initial state against which any new man-made oil contribution resulting from eventual oil and gas development could be compared with, and impacts on the marine environment, ecosystem, and people be then truly assessed.

In this context, we propose that it might appear sensible to label some information as “socially sensitive” or “environmentally sensitive” to balance the existing “commercially sensitive” information.

What is the most surprising thing you found when communicating with Corridor Resources or with Airbus Defence and Space in order to gain access to the data behind their claims about Old Harry prospect?

DB: How long it took to obtain answers! The questions we initially asked were simple and straightforward and could really have been answered in a week or so. Yet, the process took 9 months, from 20 July 2015 until 26 April 2016.

For example, here’s an excerpt of the first email I sent to Corridor Resources:

20 July 2015

I recently came across a document published by Corridor in 2011 that tells that evidence were found from satellite images of oil seeps emanating from the flanks of Old Harry.

Corridor’s annual reports also tells that six such seeps had been detected. For example, we can read in the 2000 annual report that: “Six natural oil seeps have been detected on the ocean surface by satellite, emanating from the flanks of this prospect.” I find this information very interesting and very relevant and I’d like to learn more. Could you please send me more information? Could you please send me the satellites images that were analyzed as well as a report that tells how these images were analyzed and interpreted? That would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Daniel Bourgault

I then had to send two reminders to finally receive a first response on September 2, 43 days later. I received a short response telling me that the data were proprietary information and that Corridor Resources was not at liberty to distribute them.

I immediately acknowledge the receipt and asked a few more questions on September 2. Again, I had to wait another 40 days to get a response (on October 12). It has been like this for 9 months.

But again, as I mentioned above, what I find most surprising is that Corridor Resources is at the liberty to publicly share the conclusion of the analyses but not the data or the method.

Does the public have a right to access environmental data?

DB: In general, at least in Canada and in the US, a lot of environmental data are publicly available. For example, the St. Lawrence Global Observatory (https://ogsl.ca/en) portal offers to anyone a lot of basic environmental data for the Gulf of St. Lawrence such as air temperature, wind conditions, sea temperature, salinity, currents, dissolved oxygen, sea level and much more. Some satellite images are also publicly and freely available from the US or Europe. However, some very specialized data sets and analyses are not always publicly available, especially when those data are owned by the private sector. For example, the oil seeps detection analyses carried out by Airbus Defence and Space for Corridor Resources on specialized satellite images are not publicly available.

In our paper, we introduce the idea that under some special circumstances of public interest, the public should have the right to access specialized environmental data in the name of an alternative concept we could call “socially sensitive” or “environmentally sensitive information or data.” This could balance the rights of the public to know and the right of the industry to secrecy. At the moment, the laws and regulations usually give precedence to the right to secrecy, but the balance sheet of the industry is not the only thing we should protect.

 

Case Studies in the Environment is a journal of peer-reviewed case study articles, case study pedagogy articles, and a repository for editor-reviewed case study slides. The journal aims to inform faculty, students, educators, professionals, and policymakers on case studies and best practices in the environmental sciences and studies.

Through December 31, 2017, all Case Studies in the Environment content is available free. To learn more about the journal, please visit cse.ucpress.edu.


Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism

The events in Charlottesville this past weekend drew international attention to the increasing number of hate groups in the United States, and left many wondering: what draws people into white extremist groups? What ideologies motivate these recruits? And finally, is there hope that people will leave these groups?

Michael Kimmel, the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, is one of the world’s leading experts on men and masculinities. In his forthcoming book, Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism, Dr. Kimmel examines young recruits of violent extremist groups, and unveils how white extremist groups wield masculinity to recruit and retain members—and also prevent members from exiting the movement. Watch an interview with Dr. Kimmel  and hear his response to the tragic events in Virginia.

Based on in-depth interviews with ex-white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the United States, as well as ex-skinhead and neo-Nazis in Germany and Sweden, Kimmel sheds light on these young white men’s feelings—yet clearly make no excuses for their actions. Healing From Hate reminds us of their efforts to exit the movement and reintegrate themselves into society, and is a call to action to help others to turn around and to do the same. 

Learn more about Dr. Michael Kimmel on his website or on Twitter @MichaelS_Kimmel. 

And for resources to discuss this issue with students or others in your community, follow #CharlottesvilleCurriculum and read the Charlottesville Curriculum.

 

 


Q & A with the Editor of Christianity in Late Antiquity

The Official Book Series of the North American Patristics Society

This Q & A is the first post in a blog series related to Christianity in Late Antiquity and published in conjunction with the conference of the North American Patristics Society, which meets May 25-27 in Chicago. Stay tuned for more guest contributions from authors in the series. #NAPS2017


Christianity in Late Antiquity presents outstanding new scholarship on late-ancient Christianity in its various cultural contexts. The series represents the full range of approaches to early Christianity practiced by scholars in North America and internationally, combining the best of theological analysis and institutional history with newer approaches in social history, material culture, liturgical studies, and gender studies. Its geographical and linguistic purview includes the Mediterranean world, North Africa, Northern Europe, Arabia, and the Levant.

As the North American Patristics Society convenes this week in Chicago, we asked editor Christopher Beeley to discuss the series, his own research, and how these titles will contribute to the field of early Christian studies.

What inspired you to develop the Christianity in Late Antiquity series?

Several years ago I noticed that something important was missing. The field of early Christian studies was growing in very creative ways in North America, both numerically and in terms of new perspectives, but there was no standard, general series at an American press that one would immediately think of. So I proposed to the North American Patristics Society—our main academic association—that we recreate the Society’s official book series, which once played a vital role, to reflect the full range of methodological approaches being practiced by North American scholars, and to launch a new initiative with a major American university press. That led to the conversion of the Patristic Monograph Series to the new Christianity in Late Antiquity (CLA) series with the University of California Press. There was much energy among the senior membership of NAPS as well as younger scholars, and we have since seen a great deal of interest in the series.

Can you tell us more about your research interests and areas of expertise?

My favorite thing about the early Christian studies scene in North America is that, while we certainly have our squabbles and debates, people of different and often overlapping methodological approaches work alongside one another in what are usually creative and mutually-beneficial ways. This has not always been the case in other academic associations, regrettably. The interdisciplinarity of NAPS and the conversation we enjoy is an incredible asset, and the new series reflects that. As the series editor I work with authors with very different interests.

I have studied and taught early Christianity for over twenty years, and I am interested in numerous aspects of the period. Thus far I have concentrated on the development of early Christian theology, spirituality, and biblical interpretation, and I pay close attention to the construction of authority by theologians and church councils, the way early Christian writers position themselves rhetorically, and their nearly constant concern for practical matters of individual and social ethics. I have learned a great deal from my colleagues working in similar and different areas, and I am glad to have received their responses to my work as well.

What sets the titles in Christianity in Late Antiquity apart from other books in the field?

What distinguishes CLA from the other outlets is the broad and integrative quality of the work it represents. We don’t simply publish works that represent a wide range of perspectives individually, but we aim to present books that integrate them in new and creative ways. The first two volumes do this in spades.

Yonatan Moss’ Incorruptible Bodies examines the sixth-century debate over the nature of Christ’s human body—in particular, whether is was incorruptible prior to the resurrection or not—but it does so by examining how that question gets played out in the social and political configurations surrounding the major players. There are both old-school historical dividends and new-school theoretical perspectives involved. Moss shows not only that Bishop Severus of Antioch, the great patriarch of the non-Chalcedonian church in Syria, preferred to remain in alliance with the emerging Byzantine empire, despite his opposition to the fractious Council of Chalcedon—a fact that has eluded previous scholars—but Moss also sheds light on how the ecclesial bodies of the rival communities around Severus show different social dynamics in relation to their stance on Christ’s body. It’s fascinating.

Andrew Jacobs’ brilliant new study of the fourth-century bishop and heresy-hunter Epiphanius of Cyprus likewise gives us new details of Epiphanius’ life and works along with a very contemporary new perspective on the phenomenon of his wide influence. By attending to ecclesiastical power structures and making use of modern celebrity studies, Jacobs accounts for Epiphanius’ amazing success at network-building while also giving serious attention to his biblical interpretation and dogmatic theology. The result is a whole new picture of an important early Christian bishop who is typically overlooked as a person in preference for the otherwise lost sources by other authors that he transmits.

Our third volume, Melania, a collection of studies of the influential aristocratic ascetics Melania the Elder and Melania the Younger and their family and friends, opens new doors in the study of late-ancient Christian spirituality and social history. And we have several new books currently in production of equal promise: on early Christian Syriac poetry, fourth-century Greek ascetical theology, early Christian historiography, and Latin inscriptions.

How do you see the series influencing scholarship in your field?

I expect CLA is going to influence the field of early Christian studies—in North America and internationally—by presenting the sort of pioneering integrative scholarship that North American scholars have come to be known for. While we continue to practice the more traditional modes of study, such as historical theology and institutional history, we bring to these subjects new questions and new forms of inquiry that will yield insight in multiple directions. As the largest society among our international peers, the North American Patristics Society and our associates are poised to give new shape to the field of early Christian studies, and to make important contributions in several others fields as well, from late-ancient history to systematic theology to cultural studies.


Christopher Beeley is Professor of Christian theology and history and modern Anglican tradition at Yale Divinity School. He is the author of Leading God’s People: Wisdom from the Early Church for Today, The Unity of Christ: Continuity and Conflict in Patristic Tradition, and Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God, which was the winner of a John Templeton Award for Theological Promise. An Episcopal priest, he has served parishes in Connecticut, Indiana, Texas, and Virginia, and he contributes to Berkeley Divinity School’s Anglican formation program.


5 Questions About the Resurgence of Shari’ah Law in Nigeria

In Shari’ah on Trial: Northern Nigeria’s Islamic Revolution author and scholar of Islam Sarah Eltantawi gives a powerful account of how in 1999 Northern Nigerians reached a point of desperation that they took to the streets to demand the return of the strictest possible shari’ah law. Analyzing changing conceptions of Islamic theology and practice as well as Muslim and British interactions dating back to the colonial period, Eltantawi explains the resurgence of shari’ah in Nigeria and the implications for Muslim-majority countries around the world.

In this Q & A, Eltantawi discusses the case of Amina Lawal — the Nigerian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery — that inspired her to write the book, along with the fieldwork and research she conducted to understand the case, and her thoughts on the many perspectives of shari’ah law.


Muslim societies in African countries are generally understudied, which makes your scholarship all that much more important today. Can you tell us what led you to this project? How did Nigeria become the focus of your research?

Sarah Eltantawi: On one level, I took on this project because I could not get the trial of Amina Lawal out of my head. In 2002 when Lawal was first sentenced to death by stoning for extra-marital sex, I was working in Washington DC doing what I think of as “post-9-11 triage” for the American Muslim community. On one particular day I was in a meeting of major civil rights leaders when my phone would not stop ringing with media calls. The Lawal case had exploded in the US. Two things immediately struck me as noteworthy about all the attention this case was getting. The first is that this was the same moment the Iraq war was being prepared, and rather than having a sustained national conversation about the deaths that would surely ensure from that war, there seemed to be a collective refocusing on this one case of “African” “Muslim” barbarity against one woman. At the same time, those I consulted about this case and the stoning punishment in the American Muslim leadership seemed to totally dismiss the case as something that “just happened in Africa.”

I knew this could not be true (or was it?), because I knew stoning for adultery was legal under some circumstances in Islamic law (I would later find out that stoning for adultery was virtually unheard of in Islamic history until the 20th century — which is why I call stoning a post-modern/post-colonial phenomena). In short, I sensed that many different actors were projecting a number of interesting things onto this case and my fascination with it took hold and grew. Continue reading “5 Questions About the Resurgence of Shari’ah Law in Nigeria”


Introducing American Studies Now, an E-book First Series

Much of the most exciting contemporary work in American Studies refuses the distinction between politics and culture — focusing on historical cultures of power and protest on the one hand, or the political importance of cultural practices, on the other. We are excited to announce American Studies Now: Critical Histories of the Present, a series publishing titles that cover these political and cultural intersections, exploring the ways the events of our past continue to shape our present.

An e-book first series, American Studies Now publishes short, timely books on significant political and cultural events while such teachable moments are at the center of public conversation.

We spoke with editors Lisa Duggan and Curtis Marez to discuss the goals of American Studies Now and how these books can be usedin the classroom and beyond.


What inspired you to develop the American Studies Now series?

Lisa Duggan: We need new ways to publish and distribute the work of American Studies scholars. The monograph and the journal article have a crucial role in our field, but they aren’t serving us well in the undergraduate classroom. And they aren’t putting our work into circulation in the pressing, scary political present. This new series is one new way to address those needs — short, accessible e-books (also available in print) on Black Lives Matter, climate change, neoliberalism, BDS, the continuing urban crisis, indigenous politics, queer and trans issues, the crises in higher education and more. They are designed to provide timely, provocative analysis for teaching, for activism, and for engagement now.

The series is described as “critical histories of the present” — could you elaborate on what this means?

Curtis Marez: Given the constant rush and hum of information in our social media saturated worlds, it’s easy to get stuck in the here and now in ways that make it difficult to take a critical perspective on where we are and how we got there. So American Studies Now reflects not only the urgency of the questions raised by each volume in the series but also suggests what we mean by critical histories of the present — scholarship that helps readers think about contemporary problems in terms of their larger historical, social, and cultural significance.

Why the need to publish e-books before the print editions?

LD: E-books can come out quickly and circulate widely. We want to counter the long, slow publication process and relatively narrow circulation of most academic publishing with an option designed for speed and impact, on the timeclock of the political present. Offering broad context provided by deeply knowledgeable American Studies scholars, these e-books can contribute to classroom and public discussions on issues that matter now.

How will these books contribute to the field of American Studies?

CM: Each book brings American Studies concepts and methods to the analysis of vital contemporary social movements. Authors build on and rethink the field’s historical social movement focus by foregrounding a host of contemporary grassroots movements such as Black Lives Matter, student movements, and movements for sexual justice. At the same time, American Studies Now presents critical accounts of dominant social movements such asthe movement to privatize higher education and to silence dissent; the law and order movement supporting the expansion of police power; climate justice; and the movement for free market fundamentalism that informs contemporary state policies.

Continue reading “Introducing American Studies Now, an E-book First Series”


Editor Spotlight: Seth Dobrin, Senior Editor for Sociology and Social Science Methods

photo-seth.dobrinIn this Q&A with Senior Editor Seth Dobrin, we learn about what brought him to publishing and his plans for Sociology and Social Science Methods. 

Why did you become an acquisitions editor? 

I’ve always liked how being an editor is half humanities and half problem solving. I think it’s a good fit for who I am. As an example, when I was a sophomore in college I decided to major in English and when I was a junior I became an EMT. It sounds naïve but I wanted to help people when they needed it. These days my authors and I aren’t riding an ambulance together – although sometimes hitting a deadline can feel that way – but we’re creating something that solves a real problem for real people. Being an editor means I get to work with authors and educators who improve their students’ lives by explaining something, or telling an important story. Hopefully, we make the world a little better.

What projects are you working on now to develop the Sociology and Social Science Methods list at UC Press? 

It’s been two years since I joined UC Press and I’m really excited about the books we’re producing. One that’s high on my list is Deviance: Social Constructions and Blurred Boundaries by Leon Anderson at Utah State University. We just finished our peer review and the manuscript is coming together nicely. I’m also thrilled to be publishing books that will help social scientists do research, like two books by John Hoffmann at Brigham Young UniversityPrinciples of Data Management and Presentation (publishing Fall 2017) and Regression Models for Categorical, Count, and Related Variables. These books strengthen data literacy, which fits well with the educational mission of the Press. And no, I have not been spending too much time in Utah. Great national parks!

You’re developing new textbooks and course books. Why is new content intended for use in courses important to you? 

Sociology is a hugely important discipline because it reveals things that we don’t always see or recognize about our society or ourselves. It does that through its unique perspective and rigorous research. Personally, I think that’s more important now than ever. Our world needs critical thinkers. We need people who can see, study, and critique social systems so that we can make progress.

Are there other particular courses where you’re looking to develop new content?

What’s exciting about the Press is that our Higher Education program allows us to help faculty in areas where big college publishers aren’t focused—on mid- and upper-level courses on social institutions and social change. I’m also looking to sign in courses like qualitative and quantitative methods—places where the rubber meets the road for would-be scholars. I want to find educators who teach these courses and who see the same needs and opportunities I do. It’s a new venture with a lot of support from the Press. We, alongside our authors and faculty, have the capacity to do something great with it.

Join Us 

Interested in publishing your work with Seth and UC Press? Contact Seth at sdobrin@ucpress.edu.

And learn more about Sociology and the Higher Education Program.

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Editor Spotlight: Christopher Johnson, Executive Editor for Psychology

Christopher.Johnson.Photo

For more than 120 years, UC Press has championed work that influences public discourse and challenges the status quo in multiple fields of study. It was with considerable excitement that we have decided to add psychology to our catalog—complementing our already strong presence in sociology, anthropology, history and other disciplines.

In this Q&A with Executive Editor Christopher Johnson, we learn about what brought him to publishing and his plans for the new psychology list.

Why did you become an acquisitions editor?

I spent the early years of my publishing career in sales and marketing. But like the kid with his nose pressed against the candy store window, I spent most of that time eagerly waiting for the moment when I could be the person to work directly with authors, helping shape ideas, and solving problems. Over twenty years later (and no longer a kid), it’s still a thrill to sit across a desk from a prospective author and ask the question: “How can I help you tell this story and reach your audience?”

What projects are you working on now to develop the Psychology list at UC Press?

Building a program from scratch is an exciting but somewhat daunting challenge. Fortunately, the response from psychologist around the country has been overwhelmingly positive. Though we are new to psychology, the UC Press brand is widely known and much respected.

I’ve been at the Press for one year and I’m happy that I have projects at all stages of development. For example:

  • My first book at UC Press is Seeing by noted cognitive psychologist Tom Cornsweet (Emeritus Professor at UC Irvine). The manuscript is undergoing final reviewing now and we hope to publish in late 2017.
  • My most recent signings include two innovative textbooks. The first is intended for the psychology of adjustment course by Robert Innes at Vanderbilt University and the second a highly applied book for the testing and measurement course by Lisa Hollis-Sawyer at Northeastern Illinois University.
  • I’m currently reviewing a number of proposals for new titles. It’s a wonderfully eclectic mix. From a companion reader to a behavioral statistics course, to a first person account of pregnancy and the first nine months of life by a developmental psychologist, to a much needed new text for the psychology of the self course, these projects under consideration reflect the broad scope of our new program.

You’re developing new textbooks and course books. Why is new content intended for use in courses important to you?

I’m very interested in acquiring a broad range of psychology books including works of popular science (a.k.a trade books), as well as more specialized works intended primarily for researchers. However, I am especially excited to hear from prospective authors interested in reaching audiences in undergraduate and graduate courses. The industry is undergoing dramatic changes and the big commercial publishers are de-emphasizing (or eliminating altogether) textbook offerings for upper division courses. I’m really proud that UC Press is committed to serving this increasingly under-served community of teachers and students.

Join Us 

Interested in publishing your work with Christopher and UC Press? Contact Christopher at cjohnson@ucpress.edu.

And learn more about the Higher Education Program.

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Editor Spotlight: Lyn Uhl, Executive Editor for Communication

photo-LinkedIn-Lyn.UhlIn this Q&A with Executive Executive Editor Lyn Uhl, we learn about what brought her to publishing and her plans for the new Communication list.

Why did you become an acquisitions editor? 

It seemed cooler than being a firefighter. As nerdy or cliché as it may sound, I chose publishing because I’ve always loved books and being a part of making them seemed like the best job in the world. The acquisition part of my job has a detective component that really motivates me and the process of helping authors develop their ideas is creative and fun.

What projects are you working on now to develop the Communication list at UC Press? 

I’ve been at the press for one year and I’m happy that I already have projects at all stages of development. For example:

  • My first book at UC Press is Constructions of Terrorism with Michael Stohl (UC Santa Barbara Communication Department and Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies), Richard Burchill, and Scott Englund. It’s now in the hands of our book production team and will publish in Fall 2017.
  • My most recent signings include a book for the course on Strategic Environmental Communication by Lisa Leombruni at UC Santa Barbara.
  • I just finished reviewing a wonderful book on gender and identity communication, which I hope to sign to our list soon.
  • And I am working with two amazing scholars—Patricia Parker (Department Chair at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and Lawrence Frey (Professor at University of Colorado, Boulder)—to develop a new series of books in the area of social justice and activism.

You’re developing new textbooks and course books. Why is new content intended for use in courses important to you? 

Communication is a vibrant and growing field right now, and there are many new and emerging topics and courses that require new content. It’s exciting to work on the first book in an area or the first book with an important new approach. Also, with so many books in advanced (9th and 10th) editions and large higher education publishers reducing their focus on upper division courses, there is often a need for a new defining text written from the ground up.

Are there other particular courses where you’re looking to develop new content?

Yes, it’s actually a pretty long list. But my focus right now is on intercultural communication, organizational communication, and global communication. I’m also exploring a series idea in rhetoric.

Join Us 

Interested in publishing your work with Lyn and UC Press? Contact Lyn at luhl@ucpress.edu. Or set up a time to meet Lyn at the National Communication Association conference from November 10-13 in Philadelphia.

And learn more about Communication and the Higher Education Program.

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Editor’s Spotlight: Meet Ryan Abrecht, reviews editor of Studies in Late Antiquity

This post is part of a blog series introducing the editors of Studies in Late Antiquity (SLA), our new online quarterly journal scheduled to launch in February 2017. Stay tuned for more Editor’s Spotlights with other SLA editors leading up to the journal launch.


RRA with Tetrarchs
Ryan Abrecht, University of San Diego

We are pleased to introduce Ryan Abrecht, assistant professor at University of San Diego and Book Review Editor of Studies in Late AntiquityA specialist in ancient Mediterranean history and culture, Abrecht’s scholarly work focuses on the history of the Roman Empire, but also endeavors to put Roman history into dialogue with the histories of other regions and to consider the continuing influence of antiquity on modern attitudes and world events. He is also broadly interested in premodern world history, in particular in the comparative study of ancient Roman and Chinese imperialism.

With his wide-ranging background in ancient history across the East and West, the Book Review section of SLA will reflect the journal’s mission of connecting the Mediterranean world with other ancient regions.

We sat down with Abrecht to talk more about his research interests, what drew him to the journal, and how he thinks Studies in Late Antiquity will influence scholarship in the field.

Can you tell us more about your research interests and areas of expertise?

My scholarly work focuses on the history of the ancient Mediterranean, but also endeavors to put that history into dialogue with the histories of other regions and to consider the antiquity’s continuing influence on modern attitudes and world events. I’m interested in the ways that imperialism reshapes the identities of both conquerors and conquered people alike. As a result, some of my research focuses on interactions between different groups in borderlands and frontier regions, such as the contacts that developed between Romans and Germanic peoples along the Rhine and Danube Rivers in late antiquity. I am also interested in urban history and in the relationships between social and spatial boundaries that shape urban landscapes. With that in mind, I’m currently working on a book manuscript that analyzes immigration and neighborhood life in imperial cities such as classical Athens, imperial Rome, late antique Constantinople, and Tang dynasty Chang’an.

unnamedWhat drew you to editorship of Studies in Late Antiquity?

Beyond the chance to work closely with a group offantastic colleagues, what drew me to the editorial board of Studies in Late Antiquity was the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of new scholarship about the late antique world and to develop relationships with others around the world who share my enthusiasm about it. I see SLA as a perfect opportunity to both broaden and critique the boundaries meaning of late antiquity as a field of study. Late antiquity in the Mediterranean, for example, looks quite different than it does in post-Han dynasty China, yet in both places we can trace a shift from an older “classical” model of social and political organization and the emergence of something new. I am excited to have conversations with a diverse group of scholars who can tease out the common ground between these different “late antiquities” while simultaneously calling attention to the contextual differences that make them unique. In short, I’m excited that SLA will be a way explore the different meanings of late antiquity with colleagues whose ideas will challenge and enrich my own.

How do you anticipate Studies in Late Antiquity will influence the scholarship in your field?

Through serving as SLA’s Book Review Editor, I’ll be able to think with others about how the questions we ask about the often tumultuous late antique world relate to contemporary issues such as migration, religious violence, or ethnic conflict. I see this new journal as a perfect opportunity to talk more about issues of reception – how we see the past differently and assign new meanings to it in response to the changing circumstances of the present. I’m already confident that Studies in Late Antiquity will add the expanding body of knowledge about late antiquity by supporting new scholarship and innovative research. Beyond this, I’m also hopeful that Studies in Late Antiquity will galvanize scholars working on a wide range of topics to think about what they can learn from each other by looking beyond the boundaries that have traditionally defined disciplines, geographical regions, and historical periods.


Want to get more involved with SLA? Here are just a few ways:

  • Submit your papers to SLA. Visit sla.ucpress.edu for more information.
  • Recommend SLA to your institution. Give this Library Recommendation Form to your campus librarian to request that your library pre-order a subscription.
  • Sign up for SLA launch updates! For future updates on the inaugural issue, free sample content, and more, sign up for email alerts at sla.ucpress.edu.

Editor’s Spotlight: Meet Susanna Elm, associate editor of Studies in Late Antiquity

This post is part of a blog series introducing the editors of Studies in Late Antiquity (SLA), our new online quarterly journal scheduled to launch in February 2017. Stay tuned for more Editor’s Spotlights with other SLA editors leading up to the journal launch.


Authorphoto
Susanna Elm, UC Berkeley

We are pleased to introduce Susanna Elm, Professor of History at UC Berkeley and one of the associate editors of Studies in Late Antiquity. Having received her D.Phil in Ancient History from St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, Elm has taught at UC Berkeley since 1988, teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels in subjects varying from Ancient Mediterranean History and Archaeology, to Classics, to Religious Studies.

Elm’s areas of expertise fit seamlessly into the broad editorial scope of SLA, with her Ancient History research focused on the political, economic, religious, and cultural history of the later Roman Empire across the East and West. Her current projects include research on Augustine of Hippo and slavery, the possibility of formulating a theology of economics, late Roman Antioch, elite display, and aspects of ancient medicine.

We sat down with Elm to talk more about her research interests, her involvement in the journal, and how she thinks Studies in Late Antiquity will influence scholarship in her field.

Can you tell us more about your research interests and areas of expertise?

My area of expertise is the history of the later Roman empire with an emphasis on social, economic and cultural history. Central to my endeavor is an integrated approach that combines written sources from authors that are Christian and non-Christian with documentary and material sources. Currently, I am particularly interested in questions of slavery and taxation in relation to theology, but also in aspects of masculinity as transmitted through the depictions of Roman, barbarian, and Christian men in a wide variety of contexts in our fourth and fifth century sources.

unnamedWhat drew you to editorship of Studies in Late Antiquity?

My interest in the journal is of very long standing: it goes back to the early days of the collaboration of scholars interested in matters of late antique studies in California, which, early on, always also included the regions bordering on the Roman empire. In fact, I always thought that California itself, such a complex, dynamic region, facing both East and toward the Pacific Rim, always creating and adapting to change, is an incredibly “late antique” world. In other words, for me, living in California has really influenced the way I look at the later Roman empire, and I see aspects of that empire reflected in California. And remember, though many have seen decline when they looked at the later Roman empire, it took a very, very long time until that actually happened – if it actually ever did (just to mention a perennial debate).

How do you anticipate Studies in Late Antiquity will transform the scholarship in your field?

I am very exited about the intention of this journal and its editors to work hard to bring together those who strive to look beyond Rome’s borders from both sides, and also beyond questions of Christian, non-Christian, religious, secular, and so on. I do hope that our colleagues in the non-Roman world will tell us where our blind spots are, what we take for granted without further examination, and to encourage us to experiment with methodological approaches that extend our comfort zone. To offer a forum for such debates is, I find, most distinct, interesting and exiting about SLA.


Want to get more involved with SLA? Here are just a few ways:

  • Submit your papers to SLA. Visit sla.ucpress.edu for more information.
  • Recommend SLA to your institution. Give this Library Recommendation Form to your campus librarian to request that your library pre-order a subscription.
  • Sign up for SLA launch updates! For future updates on the inaugural issue, free sample content, and more, sign up for email alerts at sla.ucpress.edu.