We are pleased to announce The Blue Review, with the realization that what’s old informs what’s new. Our goal is to broaden the audience for social science research without forsaking the scholarly methods and insights at the core of what we do.
TBR Blog is a space for commentary, opinion and reports on research in progress.
Changes in education funding and technology necessitate evolution in the way that scholars work. In this world of shrinking public support for higher education and the not unrelated growth in open source education and scholarship on the web, we are continually searching for new models. Boise State’s College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs boldly enters the sphere of public scholarship with The Blue Review, a web-native journal that will expand the reach of our burgeoning research tradition to inform and enlighten in the public interest.
Since 1986, state funding for higher education has decreased by an average of $1,735 per student, across the nation, according to data collected by the State Higher Education Executives association. In Idaho, that per-student funding number has plummeted $3,815 over the same period. State general fund support at Boise State now represents only 18 percent of the university budget. This decline in state support is not an artifact of the recession; it’s a trend line that goes down for decades.
We in public higher ed find ourselves in the midst of a strange paradox these days: While public support for colleges and universities continues to decline, calls for accountability and transparency continue to rise. Enter The Blue Review.
This new publication disseminates relevant work of faculty at Boise State and scholars throughout the region, and helps us demonstrate the many ways that Boise State—and the public university as an institution—is a public good. In addition to being the most accessible means for Idahoans to get a diploma, Boise State is Idaho’s designated “public affairs” institution—by decree of the State Board of Education—and the College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs is most closely aligned with this statewide mission. I believe it is our responsibility to embrace that mission and figure out how we can become a trusted resource for public engagement.
The public certainly benefits from a more nuanced and informed understanding of current issues, as demonstrated by Seth Ashley’s article in this issue. If people in states that are bombarded with ideological campaign ads are really more informed about politics than people in non-swing states like Idaho, as Ashley argues, then we have our work cut out for us. The university is ideally situated to lead that conversation and fill in the significant gaps left by our media.
The inaugural “issue” of The Blue Review explores the ways in which scholars view the pivotal presidential race before us. Their lenses—from Justin Vaughn’s skeptical look at the Electoral College, to Todd Shallat’s identification of the cultural factors that drove Idaho to become such a red state, to Jill Gill’s reflection on Idaho voters and race—are necessarily different from the voices you will hear in the mainstream media. They aim to inform and explain, reminding us of our shared history and its relevance to our future.
Ultimately, government benefits when citizens are more informed; if you want to fix government, you have to fix citizenship first. For many of our students, this presidential election is their very first act of engaged citizenship—they finally get to vote. It’s been my experience that younger adults take this privilege and responsibility seriously. Our hope is that The Blue Review will help them make more informed decisions.
In addition, The Blue Review will also help scholars to find a new voice in this connected society. We spend much of our time writing dispassionately about arcane topics for an extremely narrow group of colleagues. Writing for the web and for a popular audience forces us to make connections between disciplines, to write with passion and to rediscover the ways that our areas of study really matter in our society. With this first issue on the presidency, we are making the case anew for public intellectualism and scholarship.
We are thrilled to partner with Boise Weekly to produce a print version of The Blue Review and hope that it will become a regular occurrence. We look forward to partnering with other media outlets across Idaho and the Mountain West in the coming year.
Please bookmark this website, thebluereview.org, follow us on Twitter @reviewblue and look us up on Facebook. And if you have any ideas or would like to contribute to The Blue Review, contact us at any time.
As you read through the essays in this inaugural “issue,” consider our location on the Snake River Plain, our isolation as a region and growing connectedness and influence in the West. Consider the sentiments that make us unique—our independent spirit and resilience—and those that connect us to the nation at large and to the greater world. It is our hope that The Blue Review will become a connector and an accessible locus of conversation. We hope that you will join us there.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Boise State University, the Center for Idaho History and Politics, or the School of Public Service.