Journal editors strive for dialogue among peace researchers and policymakers

The latest issue of the Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs (JLIA), proposes an ambitious goal according to its editors: to close the perceived gap between conflict resolution policymakers and scholars. Executive Editor, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Penn State Law professor Amy Gaudion describes the issue as showing how “research can be simultaneously rigorous and relevant, and analytic and accessible.” To do this, the JLIA team partnered with the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), a Swedish government agency dedicated to enhancing the quality and effectiveness of international conflict and crisis management.

According to Matthew Peetz, outgoing student editor in chief of JLIA, “JLIA is exciting to work on because it pushes the bounds of the traditional law journal format by tackling topics at the intersection of law and policy, and gives students the opportunity to edit work that has a real impact on current global problems." Peetz believes the current issue is a great starting point for conflict mediators to explore new concepts and tools in peacemaking efforts.

Both Peetz and Asima Ahmad, who served as a student managing editor for JLIA described the challenges of editing articles written by a diverse array of authors over the past year as being helpful to their career prospects. “I was forced to pay attention to detail, remain organized, meet deadlines and work alongside different types (and levels) of people while doing so,” said Ahmad, who graduated in May. She said she will use those skills in her position as an associate with an employment law firm in Philadelphia.

Peetz, who will be joining a law firm doing transactional work agreed. “Nothing prepares you to closely read and edit documents like closely reading and editing papers multiple times. I am a better drafter because of the work I did as both an associate editor and as the editor-in-chief of JLIA. It also helps your legal researching skills and legal reading comprehension.”

Peetz said that School of International Affairs professor Scott S. Gartner, who has worked extensively with FBA, brought the idea to the JLIA team. “The journal collaboration has led to additional opportunities for students and faculty to engage with FBA,” Gartner said. For example, Ben Premack, juris doctor/master of international affairs Class of 2013, along with faculty members Gaudion, Gartner and professor Dennis Jett will attend an FBA Global Forum in June.

Ahmed said she was attracted to the JLIA opportunity because of her interest in international law. “I was also attracted to the fact that it's an interdisciplinary journal with the School of International Affairs. I think that is a really unique aspect to the traditional law journal, and it helps get more students, viewpoints and opinions involved.”

JLIA articles in the current issue include "Intractable Syria? Insights from the Scholarly Literature on the Failure of Mediation" by J. Michael Grieg and “The Politics of International Arbitration and Adjudication” by Stephen E. Gent of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an essay that identifies five factors that significantly influence the willingness of states to relinquish decision control and pursue arbitration or adjudication, i.e. third-party bias, salience, uncertainty, bargaining power and armed conflict. 

Advice for Prospective Journal Members

-- Learn the Bluebook.

-- Plan to edit and revise, many times.

-- Make your work compelling. Take a position on a current legal challenge or policy issue.

-- Cite everything, always.

-- Never be afraid to ask for advice — from law librarians, authors, faculty members, alumni or classmates.

-- Make suggestions. You have the opportunity, especially with JLIA, to shape the direction of the journal.

-- Talk to 2Ls or 3Ls who are journal members

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Last Updated June 04, 2013