Students from the University of St Andrews School of Geography have relaunched a peer-reviewed undergraduate journal, over 40 years after it was first published.
The Irvine Atlas follows on from the St Andrews Geographer (STAG) which was founded in the 1970s. Edited by famous St Andrews alumni the late Neil Smith, STAG ceased publication after the majority of the staff graduated.
However earlier this year, the School of Geography sent an email around the department asking students if they would be interested in reviving the journal.
Co-editor-in-chief Gabrielle Wolf and Secretary/Treasurer Carys Stirling sat down with The Saint to talk about their first issue.
When asked why she had responded to the email Ms Wolf said, “I was writing a review essay on the history of radical geography in the 1970s. I had been thumbing through many original copies of a journal called Antipode, which was started in 1969, so at the time I was thinking a lot about journals so when this happened it was perfect timing and a similar venture. Also I haven’t been very involved in Geography Society at all and I wanted to do something in the department.”
Ms Stirling said, “I wanted to get involved in the department a bit because I love geography. You know when you are in the library, people are all working, producing work all the time, churning it out, and no one ever sees any of it, just the marker and then it disappears. I thought it was a shame because in geography there are loads of really diverse interests.
“We want to showcase student excellence. Also for prospective students to see what kind of work they would be producing. You can see how you might progress through your degree.”
A sample of that diversity of content can be found in the first issue. Ms Wolf showed in the print copy how two articles next to each other cover the entire spectrum of geographical thought. She said, “The first one was an analysis of sea turtle nesting patterns on a south Florida beach written by Connor Milton, a fourth-year geographer. He used data and assigned geographic coordinates to it and used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and calculated where turtles have changed their nesting places to where they have laid eggs versus where predators are. Directly following that, we have an article by Fiona Blackwood, a fourth-year geographer. She wrote a critical analysis of whether we should apply queer theory to GIS, completely critiquing the very system and computer program that Connor had just previously used.”
Articles are sent in and anonymously reviewed, before being sent back for edits and re-submission. Yet the pieces cover more than just scholarly works, at the back there are also features pieces.
Ms Stirling said, “two of [these features] are interviews with retiring professors. One of them, Professor Elspeth Graham, was the first female professor of geography in the University of St Andrews’ 600-year history. She happened to be a contributor to an issue of STAG from 1975. They just highlight something interesting students have done.”
Along with interviews, the features pieces also cover scholarships and internships that involve geography, or report on significant events in the geographical scholarly world. Copies can be found in the geography department and the library, as well as on the Irvine Atlas Facebook page