Leadership Positionality Statement

Amanda Gallagher: I am a white, cis-gendered female historian. As a historian, I use my privileges and identities to impact and inform my passion for history as I honor and create space for forgotten voices and narratives. History is best learned through the silences. In my work, I aim to study and understand those silences to create as full a historical narrative as possible. I hope to share my research and knowledge to educate and challenge others.

Academic Journals

Academic journals have long been an essential component of scholarship. Since their inception, they have functioned as spaces to disseminate knowledge, credit academics, inform readers, and establish communities. In addition, they are spaces in which scholars can register their work and receive feedback from their disciplinary community, creating and encouraging scholarly connections and upholding academic standards. Indeed, the structure of academia is deeply intertwined with journal publication, which is viewed as a measure of success in one’s field and a tool for the pursuit of tenure and job security.

The first academic journal, Journal des Sçavans, was published in Paris in 1665 as a forum to disseminate information and connect with scholars. The journal’s founder and first editor, Jean-Denis de Sallo, described the purpose of the journal as “making known the experiments in Physics and Chemistry…which may serve to explain the effects of Nature, and the new discoveries made in Arts & Sciences” (de Sallo, n.d.). Although it was not exclusively a scientific journal and nor were the contributions peer-reviewed – meaning it would not meet modern publishing standards – the Journal des Sçavans was revolutionary for academics and broader society at the time. It created a new space within academia and paved the way for the thousands of journals that have been published since. As journals developed, they became more nuanced and scholarly, with new titles established to disseminate knowledge in specific subjects and with the application of stricter publishing criteria (Rallison, 2015). Academic journals continue to adapt, such as with the establishment of online journals that render scholarly output more widely available.

Black Academic Journals

Black academic journals provide forums for Black scholars to engage with each other and access the information and credibility denied them by other journals. These journals allow Black academics to share research pertinent to their work as scientists and educators. The first Black periodical, Freedom’s Journal, was founded in 1827. It provided a forum for developing a “community ethos” and laid the groundwork for the Black academic community. It was widely circulated through subscriptions and word of mouth, making its content far-reaching and impactful. Despite limited access to education among free Black people of the 18th Century, this journal published academic articles as a source of information about Black people and served as a scaffold for community building. Historian Emma Stave (2020) has argued that Freedom’s Journal demonstrated the importance of collective knowledge and connections across multiple barriers in the Black community and it has had lasting implications for identity development in higher education in the United States. Among the topics that the journal addressed were class relations, the struggle for freedom, establishing a Black nation, and women’s rights. Stave (2020) argues that, despite its short-lived existence, Freedom’s Journal contributed to a “collective Black consciousness.” It was disseminated to eleven states, and to Canada, Haiti, and the United Kingdom.

As Black journals grew in importance over time, Black scholars had access to more publishing opportunities. Following in the tradition of Freedom’s Journal, Carter G. Woodson founded The Journal of Negro History (later renamed The Journal of African American History) in 1916 (Dagbovie, n.d.). Woodson’s journal reinforced the importance of academic spaces for the Black community. Researchers and professionals utilized the journal to disseminate their work and to learn about the work of other scholars. Contributing scholars received feedback and gained insight into the different contexts and complexities of Black academia. Today, the journal remains a leading space for the dissemination of Black scholarship, publishing research that expansively covers Black history and contemporary life.

The academic journal remains a foundation for academic spaces, connecting, informing, and validating scholars, as well as forming and sustaining communities (Rallison, 2015). Early Black academic journals were essential for academic identity formation and for information dissemination. Established and new journals remain important in the face of continually disputed diversity in academia. In today’s political and academic climate, Black academic journals are important tools for bolstering the academic community, challenging narratives, and supporting professional growth. The Journal of STEM Leadership and Broadening Participation reflects the growth of the STEM field and the importance of diversifying STEM leadership and knowledge while acknowledging the need for further growth and acceptance. I believe that this journal follows a long line of academic journals designed to engage and inform the Black STEM community and is a powerful tool that will contribute to diversifying STEM leadership and access.

Amanda Gallagher has her master’s in public history and currently works in the Office of Undergraduate STEM Education at the American Association of Colleges and Universities. Her work includes assisting the Vice President of the office and supporting office programming. She is passionate about history and is currently researching the history of STEM education at HBCUs. She wants to establish a deeper understanding of the role of history in modern standards of STEM higher education.