April 13, 2006

Student Journal Expands Globally

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By the way they joked and kidded with each other, you wouldn’t be able to tell that Kevin Hwang ’07, Erwin Wang ’07 and Haoming Qiu ’07 had communicated only through e-mail for two months. Or that they form the core of the Board of Directors of the Triple Helix, an undergraduate journal on science, law and society that has expanded to 14 universities across America and to at least five institutions internationally.

The journal is Hwang’s brainchild. In fall of 2004, Hwang, chief executive officer of the Triple Helix, noticed the absence of an academically viable student journal which focused on the intersections of science and society on campus.

“It’s a unique intersection of three fields previously treated as three separate disciplines,” said Eugenia Schmidt ’07, editor-in-chief of the Triple Helix chapter at Cornell. “It’s especially important in this era.”

Hwang pitched the idea of creating a journal to Wang and Qiu – only “mere acquaintances then,” according to Wang, executive production editor of the Triple Helix. Since then, the Triple Helix has multiplied exponentially in size.

“Our first expansion was the addition of two schools, Berkeley and UPenn. Our second brought us four more [MIT, Brown, Georgetown, and Columbia], and our third will bring us to around 14 chapters total,” Wang said. Hwang foresees the Triple Helix expanding to include “22 or so chapters.”

The Triple Helix’s new international chapters include Oxford and

Cambridge as well as universities in India, Australia and Singapore. Oxford was the first international university to join.

Currently the Triple Helix has a readership of 17,000 to 18,000, taking into account both the print and online PDF versions of the journal.

The Triple Helix relies on a corporate-like structure in order to produce

its journal once a semester. Since the journal was founded at Cornell, the process of producing the journal is facilitated by doing it at Cornell, according to Wang.

“We have the most experience so it’s best to have the journal centralized at Cornell,” he said.

The Triple Helix takes a three-tiered approach to leadership and divides the tasks necessary to producing the journal into three divisions: business, literary, and production. The expansion of the Triple Helix hinges on how many articles the production division can lay out in the journal.

The Board of Directors sits at the top of the structure. The production division, responsible for laying out the articles, bridges the business and literary divisions.

“Even though we’re structured like a corporation, we’re human and we’re friendly,” said Lena Kuznetsova ’07, president of the Cornell chapter. “A corporate structure makes sure everyone plays a significant role.”

Chapters at different schools are autonomous from each other.

Students’ work at the Triple Helix depends on their position: writers can take what they’ve learned in class and make it accessible for a general audience; Wang, given his position on the Board of Directors, finds it to be “an undergraduate experience in entrepreneurship;” Kuznetsova describes the Triple Helix as an “experience with the real world, if you want to be in the corporate world.”

“The Triple Helix values itself as a credible academic publication,” said

Qiu, executive editor-in-chief of the Triple Helix. “We’re not just students writing articles that don’t mean anything, we’re student science writers and journalists that contribute to the advancement of the field.”

The Triple Helix’s website treats issues pertinent to science, law, and society more casually than the journal does; it is more a forum for discussion.

But Qiu does not see the possibility of adding a blog to the site.

“We value academic rigor. Blogging is not the best way to communicate verifiable scientific information,” he said.

Chapters seeking admission to the Triple Helix face a challenging process and a chapter’s ultimate success in joining is determined by a vote, according to Hwang.

Many factors influence a chapter’s success, such as fundraising for

printing, attracting students to join, the strength of campus leaders and executive boards.

The Triple Helix will release its next issue within the next 2 to 3 weeks.

According to Schmidt, the upcoming articles broach the topics of “re-wilding North America,” “ethical issues regarding the sharing of data,” and the “patenting of genes.”

“This issue features very diverse topics and an expanded scope,” she added.

Archived article by Jessica DiNapoli
Sun Staff Writer