BOLOGNA, Italy — The world is changing, and SAIS Perspectives is changing with it.
After years of publishing a yearly magazine, the International Development (IDEV) department’s student-run publication is moving to an online-only magazine and blog this year.
The reasons, according to editorial board member Deea Ariana, were numerous, and in the end, the editors found the decision relatively easy.
“A lot of publications have basically shifted their whole organization and everyone was really excited about doing that,” she said. “It was very intuitive.”
Beyond that, the goal was to expand readership beyond the walls of SAIS and into the wider International Development community.
“In the past the readership was very limited, because we didn’t have any engagement online and these days a lot of people hardly read a print copy,” Ariana said. “Because we used to only have print copies, people wouldn’t be reading it on a regular basis. We wanted to change that because this is a very important publication – not only to the IDEV concentration, but to SAIS as a whole. We wanted to be more creative and give people more options about how they read Perspectives.”
Ariana said the publication is working on extending its online presence to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as well.
To build awareness and excitement for this year’s magazine, SAIS Perspectives is running a photo contest. All members of the SAIS community (students, faculty, staff and alumni) are encouraged to submit photos by Nov. 28 on SAISPerspectives.com, along with a 100-200-word description of the photo. The top three photos win cash prizes, and all qualifying submissions will be exhibited at a Dec. 10 launch party.
“We’ve completely revamped everything about [SAIS Perspectives] and we thought it’d be really great if we could have a small photo exhibition,” Ariana added. “It’s a way to interact with the community.”
While the photos are encouraged to be development-related, fellow editor Gabor Debreczeni said that should not discourage people from submitting.
“I think almost everyone here has a broad enough experience and an interesting enough experience where I imagine they’ll be able to submit good pictures,” he said. “I think we’ll be fairly broad in our interpretation of what is meant by development.”
Both the Washington, D.C., and Bologna campuses will host launch events Dec. 10. The U.S. one will be in Rome 806, from 12:30-2 p.m. while the Bologna event will be in the auditorium from 6-7 p.m.
“Our goal is to get people excited about Perspectives, get people to look at our website, figure out who we are, get thinking about writing articles and also to get us a couple beautiful images for our website, our kind of real launch,” Debreczeni said.
The theme for this year’s magazine is “Cities and Urbanization,” a topic that really resonates with Debreczeni.
“It’s one of those all-encompassing development issues where almost every development problem is a cities problem,” he said. “Every issue you think of as a development problem – food scarcity, things like traffic, things like infrastructure, things like education, they’re all both cities issues and development issues.”
The editors are soliciting submissions on this topic (and any other) on their website, both as articles and as blog posts. Articles are asked to be between 1,200 and 1,600 words, while blog posts are 300-600 words.
Even though the publication is academic in origin, the writing does not need to be in an academic style.
“It’s a lot more pegged at an educated layman type audience,” Debreczeni said. “Especially the blog, but even the articles are not so much academic in format, but closer to a smart, well-written magazine.”
Both Ariana and Debreczeni said the editorial board is in the process of finalizing some of the other changes to the magazine, but both said they are excited about the direction of the publication.
Ariana said one of the benefits of the changes is the flexibility it gives the staff. Instead of needing a hard deadline, they can accept submissions on a rolling basis. Plus, they don’t have a fixed number of articles they can publish.
“One of the reasons taking it online is easier is because we can continuously update and add contributions,” she said. “In print, it would have been limited because we’d have to edit everything in a certain amount of time and then take it to the press.”
Further information and updates will be disseminated via the SAIS Perspectives website.