Class gives Wayne State students glimpse of content and publishing careers

A course in Wayne State University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is providing students with professional level publishing experience and preparing them for careers in a variety of fields. Through the creation of the annual Rushton Journal of Undergraduate Humanities Research, students take part in each step of the publishing process, from writing and editing to establishing editorial and production calendars.

"My career goals are to write and publish, so I felt learning about what was involved in an editorial role would make me a better collaborator as an editor or author in the future," said Jimmy Showers, an English major. "As much as I like writing, I also like working with others and helping them realize their own goals as authors. Editing the Rushton Journal let me try that."

Janice Rushton Harvey
Janice Rushton Harvey

Fueled by funding from the Edmund and Norma Rushton Endowment, the inaugural course took place in fall 2023 with the first issue published in February 2024. The endowment fund was created by Janice Rushton Harvey and her siblings to honor their parents in a way that promotes liberal arts education, offers real world experience and creates community among students.

The Rushton Journal welcomes submissions of scholarly work from Wayne State undergraduate students in the humanities and related fields. Under the guidance of faculty advisor Joe Torok, students worked together throughout the process from selecting submissions and working with authors to proofreading typeset pages, and gained experience that extends beyond publishing.

"Students on the editorial board went through this process of determining with other people, 'what matters to us, how should we set standards for that and how do we carefully hold ourselves to those standards?' Those are valuable, transferable skills in any profession," Torok said.

Opportunities to promote interdisciplinary undergraduate research and scholarship were exactly what the Rushton family hoped for when they established the Edmund and Norma Rushton endowment in 2000. "That this happens in a collaborative setting that prepares students for careers in writing and publishing is an added bonus," Harvey said.

The Rushton family intended for the endowment to adapt to evolving student needs, and it has supported humanities at Wayne State in various ways including annual conferences on campus for undergraduate students engaged in liberal arts research. When students in the Department of English sought experience in publishing, faculty conceived the idea for a student-led journal that honors the Rushton family's commitment to education and writing.

Ed and Norma Rushton
Norma and Ed Rushton

Edmund Rushton '50, M.A. '73 had a long career in advertising and his wife Norma G. Rushton '81 completed her education three decades after starting it in 1950. The couple raised six children and were longtime respected members of Detroit's advocacy community, working to improve health care and social services in the city. But it was education that they believed was the key to a prosperous future.

"My dad had two degrees from Wayne State, my mother had one, and I wanted to do something to honor their devotion to education," said Harvey. "None of us six kids graduated with any debt because my parents made it a priority to get everybody to college. The journal is very exciting because all six of us wrote for a living in some way or another."

More than a class

The class that creates the journal, which is called Publishing Practicum, offers students the opportunity to learn aspects of the publishing process that aligns with their specific interests. And students may take the class up to three times to focus on different aspects of the process and further their knowledge and preparation.

Katie Wensink '23, earned a bachelor's in fashion merchandising at Wayne State but enrolled in the course while pursuing an M.A. in English to gain skills that could help her launch a career in fashion writing.

"I want to be a writer or editor for a major fashion publication like Vogue or Harper's Bazaar," said Wensink. "So the chance to work as an editor and be involved in the publishing process was fascinating."

Ashley Joranstad, a senior majoring in English who hopes to attend law school and eventually practice copyright law, said, "As opposed to other classes that can be more theoretical, this experience helped me to learn skills I can actually bring with me and talk about in a job interview."

Rushton JournalThe class exemplifies Wayne State's College to Career initiative, which seeks to provide every student with experiential learning opportunities that allow them to encounter the world, gain deeper insights and new perspectives, and prepare for prosperous careers.

And for the Rushton family, the journal is a tangible tribute to their parents who valued working together, shared learning experiences and the benefits of a liberal arts education.

"Education opens you to new perspectives," said Harvey. "Education makes you more tolerant and encourages you to exercise critical thinking. I'm excited for students to have that opportunity with the journal and to have their finished product-something they can hold in their hands."

The Rushton Journal of Undergraduate Humanities will be printed annually and made available online after the fall course of ENG 5685.

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