Emory Report Extra
June 26, 2009


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June 26, 2009
New online journals broaden religion discussion

By laurel hanna

Practical Matters and Methodist Review, two new Emory-based online academic journals, are promoting a deeper and more expansive exploration of the interweaving of religion and multiple disciplines.

Practical Matters: A transdisciplinary multimedia journal
Practical Matters, a publication of Emory's Graduate Division of Religion, explores both the study of religious practices and the discipline of practical theology. In an article in the journal's first issue, Practical Matters managing editors Letitia Campbell and Donna Mote define practical theology as "a theology that responds to lived conditions and situations, and in turn shapes the way that communities, institutions, and people live."

One way Practical Matters opens up the discussion of religion and practice is by publishing online. "Online, we're able to reach a broader audience than we would through a print publication. Clergy, lay leaders, students and scholars can all contribute to the conversation and share rich intellectual reflection on the work they're doing," says Campbell.

Because scholars and practitioners tend to publish in and read the journals of their respective disciplines, connections between them are often overlooked.  

"One of our goals is to create a space for rich interdisciplinary conversation," says Campbell.

Practical Matters fosters interdisciplinary dialogue in part by gathering content around a theme. Asking a question about a topic opens up dialogue simply because people from different disciplines approach the question from different perspectives, says Campbell.

Rather than focus on traditional scholarly articles alone, Practical Matters is designed to use the full capacity of the internet, featuring a variety of content: peer-reviewed scholarship in various media, reflections and essays by practitioners and teachers, video and audio interviews, reviews of current work, musical performances, and photographic essays.

The first issue of Practical Matters, published this spring, is organized around the theme "imagination." Articles included range from a traditional scholarly article on narrative homiletics to a video-only piece on musical and liturgical imagination featuring retired Candler professor Don Saliers and his daughter, musician Emily Saliers. Several articles feature both traditional and multimedia content.

Support for Practical Matters is provided by the Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology (a project of the Lilly Endowment Inc.), Emory Libraries, and the Graduate School. The journal will be published 1–2 times per year.

Methodist Review: A journal of Wesleyan and Methodist studies
Methodist Review, which began publication May 1, is an open access, peer-reviewed online academic journal that publishes scholarly articles in all areas of Wesleyan and Methodist studies.

The journalis a joint effort sponsored by Candler School of Theology; Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University; the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools; and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church. The corporate office is at GBHEM in Nashville and the editorial office is at Candler.

Russ Richey, William R. Cannon distinguished professor of church history at Candler, serves as a general editor along with Ted Campbell from Perkins. Rex Matthews, associate professor in the practice of historical theology at Candler, is the managing editor.

To ensure its academic credibility and quality, Methodist Review has assembled an editorial board of highly qualified senior scholars, including those from disciplines outside of Methodist/Wesleyan studies. This volunteer editorial board reviews and evaluates all articles submitted for publication.

An entirely digital enterprise, Methodist Review is not published on the regular schedule of a print journal. Instead, articles are published on the journal'sWeb site when they are approved by the editorial board, and registered users are notified of their publication by e-mail.

Matthews noted that the electronic format was purposely chosen for the journal to best serve an increasingly global Methodist/Wesleyan academic audience by allowing for more timely delivery of articles and lower production costs. Financial support from its sponsors enables Methodist Reviewto provide immediate access to its content at no cost to its readers. A one-time, free user registration is required to access the articles published in the journal.