A Familiar Face at Polymath

Polymath will be changing hands come January 2012 when Susan Hume, associate professor of geography will be replacing Douglas Simms as editor.

Polymath issue 1 coverPolymath is SIUE’s interdisciplinary journal collecting works from all areas across the College of Arts and Sciences. The term polymath refers to a scholar who’s expertise spans across a number of disciplines. The term is commonly associated with individuals like Leonardo da Vinci who combine the study of art with science and philosophy. Founded with this spirit in mind, the journal is meant to provide an avenue for scholarly works of various disciplines to be collected side by side so that they may encourage academic discussion across all fields.

“I think it’s an advantage for American universitiy students to have a broad liberal arts background before specializing,” said Hume.

Hume commented on the nature of modern academics and how specialization is frequently focused on more than broad knowledge. As a geographer, Hume is a self proclaimed generalist, noting that her decision to go into geography was largely influenced by her fascination with a wide variety of subjects.

The initiative to create Polymath was started by Aldemaro Romero, Dean of SIUE’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), back in 2009 as a way to showcase the work of students and faculty across CAS. Simms was chosen as the first editor because of his strong interdisciplinary background. One of the major goals for the journal was to make it truly span across all disciplines as opposed to being rooted in one discipline and pulling in works from other areas. In order to assure this, an editorial board from across CAS departments was assembled to help with the journal.

Another founding principle was that the journal should be a work of open scholarship, allowing for submissions by anyone in the academic community and freely distributed. This is in part made possible because of Polymath’s electronic format which allows for a wider range of submissions as well as provides the ability to incorporate a wider range of content including audio and video media.

Polymath continues to move forward in the spirit of open scholarship. In future editions the journal is hoping to include undergraduate work along side graduate work, themed issues, and guest editors from a variety of backgrounds. This spring’s issue will be tied to the CAS Colloquium theme “Thinking about Space.”

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