Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
Crossing Borders publishes interdisciplinary research from undergraduate students at Kansas State University and (in future) elsewhere. Its aim is to encourage interdisciplinary research among undergraduates by introducing them to “the processes and values of open-access, peer-reviewed communication, thereby preparing them to be more critical consumers and producers of scholarly discourse.” The journal defines interdisciplinary work as “work by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice.” Material to be found here is planned to come in a variety of formats, such as original case-studies, reports of research or creative activity, book reviews, and field notes. All content comes from “current or recently graduated (within 6 months of graduation) undergraduate students who contributed substantially to the research or creative activity upon which the writing is based.”
At present a single issue, Volume 1 (2015), Issue 1, has been published, listing a number of Kansas State University staff as editors, editorial board, and editorial advisors. The issue offers an Introduction / Welcome from the editorial board (it’s to be hoped the editors will soon discover a better way to format material, since it takes a download and scrolling through several near-empty pages to reach any substantive text), along with three articles: “Consequences against Community Development from Political Unrest: Evidenced by “La Guerra Sucia” in Lima, Perú,” by Eleanor G. Dickens; “The Journey to Death: Elemental Imagery in the Works of George MacDonald,” by Kaitlin M. Downing; and “The Knights of the Front: Medieval History’s Influence on Great War Propaganda,” by Haley E. Claxton. All three authors are students or recent graduates of KSU.
The papers started out as class assignment papers, but it’s clear substantial work has gone into editing and refining them. Although the writing begins tentatively in some places, as the authors get their feet under them during the paper’s progress, a confidence and surety emerges, along with their own ideas and synthesis of material. Excellent color pictures and illustrations accompany articles, and the first includes very good summary case studies about communities in Peru.
Crossing Borders has made a brave start, and it’s to be hoped the editors can bring more interdisciplinary undergraduate writing to the fore. Undergraduates seem to “get” interdisciplinarity in a enviable way; it’s a great thing to see a publication that focuses on, and highlights, their ability to find connections across seemingly-disparate areas of study.