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Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
The purpose of the British Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies is to provide a space for dialogue to take place from “the interdisciplinary perspective of different empirical and theoretical traditions involved in the study of the social, political, engineering and legal processes determined by human passions.” A very wide range of subjects can be addressed within the journal, including Computer Science; Crime; Ecology; Economics; Education; Engineering; Ethnobiology; Healthcare; History; Law (Public Law, Employment Law, etc.); Legal Systems; Music; Nature Conservation; Philosophy; Politics; Psychology; Religion; and Sociology. The journal publishes editorials (short articles written by members of the enormous, impressive, international Editorial Team), research articles, review articles (including extensive research literature reviews as well as innovative or conceptual manuscripts), student articles, and book reviews. The editorial teams of all these sections consist of an extensive and diverse list of members from around the world.
The journal is still in its nascent stage, with only four issues available at the time of this review: Vol 2, No 1 (2015), Vol 1, No 3 (2014), Vol 1, No 2 (2014), and Vol 1, No 1 (2014), and those issues are not heavily populated. The current issue for 2015 has a single article, but that article is quite intriguing and draws together a variety of disciplines in its study: “Regional Geographic Factors Mediate the Climate-War Relationship in Europe.” The article abstract notes, “It has been demonstrated in recent studies that wars occurred with greater frequency in Europe in periods of cold climate over the past millennium, and food scarcity is the explanation. However, the issue of whether the climate-war relationship holds consistently across the European continent has been insufficiently explored. In the present study, we seek to advance the macroscopic understanding of the climate-war association in Europe via the statistical analysis of fine-grained paleo-climate and historical warfare data covering the period 1400–1999, with a specific focus on how regional geographic factors mediate the association.” The author affiliations reflect the study’s interdisciplinarity very well; they are from the Department of Geography and International Center for China, Development Studies at the University of Hong Kong, and the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. This is a quite fascinating study to read, and of considerable interest to a wide range of researchers, since, as the authors note in their conclusion, “Since human societies exist in the context of certain environmental conditions, a changing climate that significantly alters these conditions is expected to have an impact on human life and society. At the heart of the debate over the role of climate in warfare lies the desire to provide scenarios of future conflict patterns under global warming.”
The previous issue, Vol 1, No 3 (2014), also contains a single article: “Theorizing ‘Governance’ and the Problem of Conceptual Boundary Setting.” This is a lively examination of the term “governance,” and how “a theory will always exhibit, strongly or weakly as the case may be, a double claim: one about what is real and the other about how we should understand the nature of that reality.”
The timeline for publication here is surprisingly short: one article was received in October 2014, reviewed, and published by December 2014, which is a remarkably efficient reviewing process. Given the excellent scholarship and writing offered by this journal, I hope to see it offer many more contributions to the scholarly interdisciplinary literature. This is a worthwhile title to recommend to researchers and scholars across the academy.