New online journal blends information, action
‘Unbound’ tries to appeal to social justice academics and advocates
November 28, 2011
The new social justice journal from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy is aiming to be more than just that.
Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice launched last month as an online source of information for academics and advocates alike.
“We are doing something potentially unprecedented in trying to be both journal and community organizer,” said Patrick David Heery, managing editor.
Unbound has two target audiences: people who loved ACSWP’s former print journal, Church & Society, and who are active in social justice ministries; and people of all backgrounds who are interested in the connection between justice and Jesus.
“We want to witness to this other side of Christianity that often doesn’t get a lot of traction in the media,” Heery said.
The online journal is interactive, inviting users to comment on posts; submit articles, photos, art and poetry; and participate in forums and polls. The site also provides action alerts and information on ways to get involved in justice campaigns.
“There’s a tension that this journal rides in several ways,” Heery said, adding that Unbound aims to provide academically rich material while remaining accessible and interactive. It also wants to reach a diverse audience, including those steeped in Presbyterianism and those who are unchurched.
The action alerts are one way Unbound hopes to reach both groups of readers. No prior knowledge of an issue is needed to participate; readers can immediately sign a petition or comment on a post that interests them.
While the action alerts and blog posts are designed to be timely and action-oriented, Unbound will also “publish” four to six issues a year with articles focused on a theme. The journal’s first theme is the economic crisis and injustice.
So far, the feedback for Unbound has been positive, Heery said. Many readers continue to miss Church & Society, which stopped publishing in 2006 after 98 years. But they appreciate the interactive features of the site, and many have asked about adding worship resources related to the issues’ themes.
Before launching the journal, Heery and Unbound’s advisory board did extensive research on similar resources available to justice-minded Presbyterians and people of faith. And they believe that Unbound fills a gap.
“You can find online lots of ideas. What is not necessarily out there is something that seamlessly interweaves all these ideas with the ability to take action in the context of the gospel,” Heery said. “Unbound wants to be part of spreading the word of what God is doing and participating in what God is doing.”