The Graduate Summer Fellows recently had a lunch discussion with Jennifer Weeks, the Environment and Energy Editor at The Conversation, a non-profit online publication featuring articles written by academics and intended for the general public.
Weeks gave an overview of the origin of The Conversation, which began in Australia and now has editions in Africa, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom, in addition to the U.S. edition. She discussed the process of soliciting stories from academic experts, and the challenges of editing articles to make academically rigorous content digestible for non-expert audiences.
The Conversation is funded by foundations and universities, including Boston University, which is one of 19 founding partners. All stories are published under a Creative Commons license, which increases the monthly audience from about 5 million to 35 million users. To date, The Conversation boasts articles written by 53,500 academics and researchers from 2,102 institutions.
Last month, an article written by Pardee Center Director Anthony Janetos appeared in The Conversation, and was widely republished elsewhere. The article, which is related to a March 2017 Pardee Center Research Report by Janetos and others, explores the use of models to understand the potential economic and environmental impacts of catastrophic crop losses in multiple “breadbaskets” around the world.