New Academic Journal Creates Opportunities for UT’s English Students

The “International Journal of Nuclear Security” is only nine months old, but it has already made significant changes to UT’s technical communications program, according to director Russel Hirst.

In July, UT’s English Department joined forces with the UT Institute for Nuclear Security and the Department of Nuclear Engineering to create a peer-reviewed journal titled the “International Journal of Nuclear Security” (IJNS).  IJNS was created to fill the need for an open, global, scholarly dialogue about nuclear security among scholars, scientists, and law enforcement agencies.  The journal, while interdisciplinary, is mostly managed by UT’s technical communications program.

Technical communications, one of the English department’s four concentrations, was established by Michael Keene in 1985.  The concentration was immediately successful, and within five years the department brought in Hirst to help continue the program’s growth.

Hirst, now the director of the program, is largely responsible for the journal’s creation.

“I met people from UT’s Department of Nuclear Engineering who…said to me, ‘Hey, we want to start up a journal about nuclear security.  Would you be interested in editing the journals?’  So I said, ‘Yeah, sounds fascinating!’”

The first issue came out five months ago.  “Already it has made a big change,” Hirst said.

One such change is the creation of internships and editorial positions for both undergraduate and graduate students.  The real-world experience gives these students opportunities not offered at most other universities.

Sarah Docktycz, a senior in technical communications, said her experience with IJNS impacted her education in several ways.  “This internship gave me invaluable experience…that I’m not sure I could have gotten anywhere else.  I’ve started to make connections in my field, and it’s helped me get a job post-graduation.”

Sumner Brown, a graduate student studying rhetoric and writing, agreed.  “[IJNS] has completely shaped my career.  It’s taken me from not knowing where I was going or what I was doing to ‘Wow, there’s this niche and I fit right into it.’  I have found that [rhetoric and nuclear security] come together in a perfect fit.”

IJNS has also helped shape course curriculum.  Hirst said he has learned enough from his new nuclear security connections to offer a new class.  “Next semester I’m offering a special topics course…called Global Communication in Science, Technology, and Policy,” he said.  The course will focus on the interconnectivity between rhetoric and writing in technical fields, such as nuclear security or public policy.

“IJNS is developing curriculum, it’s developing research and publication opportunities for me in collaboration with students, [and] it’s helping to fund INS and IJNS,” Hirst stated.  “All these connections are helping to bolster technical communications within the UT Department of English in a significant way.”

The journal is free and open to the public on their website.


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