Developing critical thinking, research, and persuasive communication are critical for success regardless of a college student's major or career aspirations. At Penn State Abington, a unique opportunity exists for students committed to mastering these skills while engaging in discussions, debates and dialogues.
Salar Ghahramani, assistant professor of business law and international law and policy, selects students each year to serve on the editorial board of "The Dialectics: Journal of Law, Leadership, and Society." The annual electronic publication provides a forum for students to independently research and justify their opinions on issues significant to society and the world while proposing forward-thinking solutions.
"It's critical for the health of our society that students think about issues of public importance," Ghahramani, who earned bachelor's and law degrees from Penn State, said.
They develop and submit manuscripts, and external expert reviewers or referees recommend which merit publication. The competition is world-class — literally — since undergraduates from around the world are eligible. Ghahramani said he receives between 70 and 100 submissions each year and very few make the cut. The current issue, for example, includes three pieces.
Even if an Abington student's manuscript isn't selected, they gain valuable experience working with Ghahramani as well as reading the works of students from other universities and discussing improvements.
"Being a part of the journal causes the students to think deeply about issues of societal importance, to research and present the topics intelligently — both in writing and in person — to become civic-minded, and to see the value of public scholarship in shaping law and public policy."
-- Salar Ghahramani, assistant professor and editor in chief
"The Dialectics" published its eighth volume this month and to date it includes the works of 63 authors from 30 universities worldwide. When it was founded in 2006, Ghahramani said was one of the few refereed journals for undergraduates.
"Being a part of the journal causes the students to think deeply about issues of societal importance, to research and present the topics intelligently — both in writing and in person — to become civic-minded, and to see the value of public scholarship in shaping law and public policy," he said.
The 2015-16 edition includes analyses about welfare reform, health care, and tactics used in presidential election campaigns. Past issues tackled foreign policy, taxes, education, and business topics.
External advisers to "The Dialectics" include faculty from the University of Connecticut as well as George Washington, East Carolina, and George Mason universities.
Members of "The Dialectics" editorial board have presented their research to the campus community and at other venues. It is one of many opportunities Abington students have to professionalize their educations including ACURA (Abington Undergraduate Research Activities).