Christie Henry on the Evolution of University Press Science Publishing

In The Atlantic this month, science journalist Ed Yong writes about new studies on the evolution of mammals that convey how much humans have turned up evolutionary dynamics. Since the 16th century, we sapiens have wiped out 500 million years of phylogenetic evolutionary history, and we stand to lose a further 1.8 billion years within the next five decades, breaking twigs, branches, and core trunks of the mammalian evolutionary tree. It’s astonishing, and humbling, to contemplate the scale of impact, but some of the online commentary on the article is just as devastating. One reader stated that humans just do not care; some of our species don’t read about science, others are persuaded by the untruths of redactions of climate science, or denunciations of planetary temperature fluctuations. Is news about scientific discovery heard as much as a felled tree falling in uninhabited woods?

The evolution of science publishing at university presses tells a different narrative. The #ReadUP world knows how to #TurnItUp for science, and many new branches of editorial programs are generating stands of books that range in topic from altruism to zooplankton, from neuroscience to natural history. In a 2018 survey of university press areas of acquisition, 58 presses reported publishing in earth and environmental science, and 53 in the areas of ecology and conservation. The diversity of presses, and the morphology of their science lists, helps build resilience, and niches for a wide range of book types, from graphic science to popular narratives to graduate level course books. The #Readup editors foraging in these landscapes are resilient, and opportunistic, as books in these fields do not grow on trees, and rarely on the cvs of scientists.

This year, #ReadUPscience readers can swim in the pages of Drawn to the Deep to learn about the underwater explorations of Florida’s Wes Skiles, explore the richness of The Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas , have a trusted foraging companion in Mushrooms of the Gulf Coast States, savor daily joys of A Year in Nature, chatter over the Tales that Teeth Tell, learn best practices of Communicating Climate Change, and how thinking like a geologist can help save the planet in Timefulness.

While there are a diversity of university presses working to amplify science, the evolution and long-term sustainability of these programs, Princeton University Press’s included, depend on the ability to create equitable and inclusive populations of authors, a particularly acute challenge in science publishing. The American Association of Science dedicated much of its annual meeting in 2018 to diversity and inclusion, but waiting for the waves of change to reach the shores of the UP world is akin to waiting for ocean acidification to naturally rebalance; we need intervention. University presses, like scientists we collaborate with, can be pioneers, innovators, and intrepid explorers, discovering new authors to change the world of science publishing. Just as we have found ways to evolve impactful science programs at presses with origins in the humanities and social sciences, so too can we create niches for a greater equity of authorial expertise and voice in these programs.

I turn to Ed Yong again, who spent two years working to fix the gender imbalance in his stories about science. As he notes, gender parity is just a start. We need to first quantify the problem, and provide data to track change. We are doing this research at PUP now, and while the science list here is amazing in its thematic diversity, we are keen to fix the imbalances of author voices.

Just as ecosystems of great biodiversity are more resilient, so too will presses of greater diversity be sustainable. Every microbe in our publishing guts tells us that if we can present the state of scientific understanding from as wide a perspective as possible, our chances of getting readers to tune in, and turn up their own understanding of science, exponentially amplify.

Check out #TurnItUp science posts from our colleagues at Johns Hopkins University Press, Rutgers University Press, University Press of Colorado, Columbia University Press, University of Toronto Press, and University of Georgia Press.

UPress Week Blog Tour #TurnItUp History

The UPress Week blog tour continues today and we are ready to crank up the volume on History. Here’s what’s on the lineup: In the WLU Press blog post, Nil Santiáñez, author of the recently-published Wittgenstein’s Ethics and Modern Warfare, explores how the Great War impacted Wittgenstein’s philosophy. A post from The University of California Press celebrates the centenary of the Armistice of 1918 and focuses on the book’s main topics: The Western Woman Voter: The Women’s Suffrage Movement, Through the Perspective of the West – an excerpt taken from Shaped by the West, Volume 2: A History of North America from 1850 by William Deverell & Anne F. Hyde. For University of Nebraska Press, Jon K. Lauck, adjunct professor of history and political science at the University of South Dakota and the author of numerous books, will discuss the importance of Midwestern history. University of Alabama Press has published a roundup of new and forthcoming history books celebrating Alabama’s bicentennial in 2019. Rutgers University Press focuses on the recently-published history/memoir by acclaimed cultural historian H. Bruce Franklin titled Crash Course: From the Good War to the Forever War. University of Rochester Press has an interview with the author of their new book An Architecture of Education: African American Women Design the New South, which uncovers the role of African American women in the design and construction of schools in the post-Reconstruction South. Beacon Press will be looking at their ReVisioning Amerian History and ReVisioning American History for Young Readers Series. University of Kansas Press will discuss (and celebrate!) the passion of military history readers by interviewing authors, critics and customers. At Harvard University Press, Executive Editor Lindsay Waters looks back on HUP’s hisory of publishing Bruno Latour. University of Georgia Press puts the spotlight on one of their newest series, Gender and Slavery, and its inaugural book, Sexuality and Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas. The series seeks to shed light on the gendered experience of enslavement including and beyond that of the United States, and the book takes on a new approach of sexuality, including discussions of sexuality as a means of resistance, that can help inform our present day. At University of Toronto Press, Editor Stephen Shapiro reflects on the vast range and the staying power of UTP’s publishing program in history. MIT Press has a Q&A with  longtime editor Roger Conover (who is retiring next year) and one of his authors Craig Dworkin, about his history at the MIT Press.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on the future of science publishing by our own Christie Henry!

UPress Week Blog Tour: #TurnItUp – The Neighborhood

Today’s blog tour focuses on “The Neighborhood” with a collection of insights from our esteemed colleagues on publishing in the field of regional studies, a key mission for many university presses. Over at the University of Manitoba Press, the coauthor of Rooster Town writes about how a Metis community living on the edge of Winnipeg was mapped-out by colonial powers, and his own effort to re-map the community over the six decades of its existence. Syracuse University Press features a post on publishing about central New York history, people, and culture. Over at Fordham University Press, Ron Howell, author of Boss of Black Brooklyn, discusses the changing neighborhood of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant. Northwestern University Press interviews Harvey Young, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Boston University about NU Press’s “Second to None” Chicago regional series, of which he is the founding series editor. University Press of Mississippi features a Q&A with Catherine Egley Waggoner and Laura Egley Taylor, the authors of Realizing Our Place: Real Southern Women in a Mythologized Land. Following Temple University Founder Russell Conwell’s ideas of Acres of Diamonds, Temple University Press mines riches in its backyard with a post on titles about Temple University, by Temple University Professors, and Temple University graduates. University of Alberta Press has a post on what it’s like to move into a neighborhood that was given a “zero” quality of life rating. University of Texas Press features an interview with Lance Scott Walker about his oral history of Houston Rap. University of Washington Press has a piece up on Concrete Mama: Prison Profiles from Walla Walla, by Ethan Hoffman and John McCoy, which won the Washington State Book Award in 1981 for its stark, sympathetic portrayal of life inside the maximum-security prison. Ohio State University Press has a behind-the-scenes look at Time and Change, a forthcoming book celebrating the University’s 150th year. University of Illinois Press is announcing their new regional trade imprint, Flame & Flight Books, which will tell the unknown stories of the heartland’s unique places, people, and culture. Rutgers University Press puts the focus on Walking Harlem by Karen Taborn, a book recently featured in a NYT’s roundup of walking tour books. Oregon State University Press has a post on The Columbus Day Storm of 1962, which remains the Pacific Northwest benchmark for severe windstorms in this era of climate change and weather uncertainty. Everyone who lived through it has a story, including journalist John Dodge, whose new book about the storm, A Deadly Wind, has sparked innumerable conversations. Columbia University Press discusses how presses can play a critical role in publishing books about the cities and regions in which they reside. Their post features excerpts from some of their newest and most popular publications about New York and its neighborhoods. University of Georgia Press is running a Q&A with Sandra Beasley, editor of Vinegar and Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance. Finally, University of Toronto Press has a post from Jane Kelly, Director of Sales and Marketing, who writes about connections to Toronto’s neighborhoods.

Stay tuned for more posts in the blog tour on Thursday and Friday.

UPress Week Blog Tour: #TurnItUp Politics

The book world is groaning under the weight of books on political expose and opinion, but University Press press books bring expertise, data and serious analysis to bear on an array of complex issues. The University of Chicago Press highlights a group of recent books that, taken together, offer considerable insight into American politics.  A post from Teachers College Press features a list of books on politics and education. A Q&A with Michael Lazzarra, author of Civil Obedience (Critical Human Rights series) about how dictatorships are supported by civilian complicity is featured by the University of Wisconsin Press. Rutgers University Press highlights three recent politics books: The Politics of Fame by Eric Burns and the reissues of classics Democracy Ancient and Modern by M.I. Finley and Echoes of the Marseillaise by Eric Hobsbawn. UBC Press describes their new Women’s Suffrage and the Struggle for Democracy series. Over at LSU Press, there’s a post about their new list dealing with contemporary social justice issues, pegged to Jim Crow’s Last Stand and the recent state vote to ban non-unanimous criminal jury verdicts. An interview with Dick Simpson and Betty O’Shaughnessy, authors of Winning Elections in the 21st Century can be found courtesy of the University of Kansas Press. Harriet Kim provides a selection of interesting politics titles that she recently brought back into print as part of the Heritage Book Project at the University of Toronto Press. A spotlight on two recent additions to our Politics and Culture in the Twentieth-Century South series that focus on defining the white southern identity through politics can be found at the University of Georgia Press. Last but not least, The University of Virginia Press is publishing an updated edition of Trump’s First Year and has published a post describing the creation of that book and the preparation of a new edition covering year two, up through the recent midterms.

Stay tuned for more in this lineup of #TurnItUP posts throughout the week.