By ANDREW PETTERSON
Since 2005, the University of Mary Washington has gathered with faculty to share ideas, known as the Social Research Colloquium. The group organizes monthly meetings for faculty to meet, discuss and present their research to one another. Topics presented are meant to expand the arts, social sciences, humanities and business education.
When Professor LaBreche was named co-chair of the organization last year, one of his main goals was to find a way to share projects completed by the speakers more widely. The Source offers professors a chance to showcase and distribute their research with the general public online.
Launched by the English, Linguistics and Communication department, The Source is a blog meant to inform local community members on various academic topics. Under the direction of
Associate Professor of English Ben LaBreche, The Source provides a platform for intellectually curious community members: faculty, students, alumni, Fredericksburg and Virginia citizens, as well as anyone who is interested in the research conducted at UMW. The blog can be found at thesource.umwblogs.org.
As more people are turning to the internet for academic research, internet blogs such as The Source are becoming increasingly important, especially in academia.
In accordance with the mission of the Social Research Colloquium to explore a diverse range of subjects, The Source excludes no niche. Article topics range from American immigration law in the early 20th century to the effects of fertility rates on economic growth.
The term, “academic research” usually conjures up images of late nights at the library pouring through databases, journals, textbooks and articles. As its name suggests, The Source cuts through the density typically associated with academic papers and gets to the heart of a professor’s research.
The straightforward nature of the interviews in the articles offers readers a concise and cohesive understanding of topics that may have previously seemed bizarre.
For example, while people may have no background in collective memory studies or confederate history, the interview on cultural and social identity of post-civil war Richmond with professor of Anthropology, Jason James, will undoubtedly strike a relatable chord with anyone who is a member of the UMW and Fredericksburg community.
Similarly, Krystyn Moon, associate professor of History and director of American Studies recently had an interview on the subject of the origins of temporary immigration which, according to Moon, is “a bureaucratic apparatus that allows people into the country to work, travel, or go to school, but otherwise grants very limited rights.”
In the interview, Moon describes how temporary immigration has evolved into the Visa system in the U.S. today.
These projects carry out the goal The Source intended. It bridges the gap between faculty and the rest of the UMW community as well as the outside world. Interviews are easily comprehensible and accessible in order provide readers with a clear understanding of the “who, what, when, where, why and how” of the recent research projects carried out by the faculty.
According to LaBreche in a statement about the website, “professors rarely have the chance to explain their research, in their own words, to one another, students, and outside audiences.”
In this regard, The Source hits its mark.