Reaching a Popular Audience Workshop: Wrap-Up

Last week, we hosted a writing workshop for history and geography graduate students at the University of British Columbia called “Reaching a Popular Audience” sponsored by the Network in Canadian History & Environment and The History Education Network. The intent of the workshop was to introduce graduate students to some core skills for writing newspaper op-ed articles and magazine queries. We brought in an excellent group of students from Western Canada, including students from BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

Tina Loo, Laura Madokoro, and Mary Lynn Young came in to sit on a Q&A panel about their own experiences as writers and editors for magazines and newspapers. Tina writes a bi-monthly column for Canada’s History (formerly The Beaver), Laura is an occasional op-ed contributor to Globe & Mail, and Mary Lynn is the director of UBC’s journalism school as well as a former newspaper reporter and editor. This session was especially useful for our discussion of some of the bigger issues surrounding academia and popular publishing as well as some really important “nuts and bolts” issues about newspaper and magazine writing.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I led an afternoon session on academic blogging. I wanted to thank everyone who sent me comments in advance of the session (thanks Shane!). Hopefully I laid out a convincing case for the place of academic blogging for history and geography scholars. I know I convinced some of the participants to start up new blogs and further develop existing blogs. Here are links to a couple of the participants’ blogs:

Can Enviro Rock?

Merle Massie, A Place in History

We hope that some of the participants will eventually publish an op-ed or magazine article in the future. At the very least, we started an excellent conversation about scholarly communication and the ways in which academics can mobilize their research to reach new audiences and perhaps serve a broader public interest.

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