The Publishing Practicum

By Makena Schoene
Blog & Social Media Coordinator, The Drake Community Press 

J-term at Drake University offers students the ability to try new things, study abroad or catch up on credit hours. For those staying on campus during the month of January, a wide selection of courses were available to choose from, including a course geared towards the principles of English, Journalism and Religion. The Book Publishing and Promotion Practicum with the Drake Community Press, taught by DCP founder, Carol Spaulding- Kruse gave students the chance to learn what it takes to create and sell a book.

The class was fast- paced and intensive, as months of material were squeezed into three hour sessions for three weeks. Students were expected to complete the reading and writing assignments before each class, which amounted to more than five hours of studying per night. Work typically included class discussions, journaling, group work focused on specific tasks of the production process and research conducted both online and in the field. Students were also given the chance to lead their own teams and present their findings to the rest of the class, promoting an engaging environment where students could learn valuable leadership skills. But it was not all work this J-Term class. Students were required to attend two religious services of their choice from a list of several faith organizations such as the Sikh Gurudwara in West Des Moines, the Hindu temple in Madrid or B’nai Jeshrun synagogue.

Amanda O’Malley, a junior working towards degrees in writing, sociology, women & gender studies along with a concentration in theory and criticism at Drake University, was enrolled in this J-Term under Professor Spaulding- Kruse’s instruction. “After taking this J-Term, I have grown not only as a student, but also as an individual. I had the chance to meet people of all walks of faith as well as prominent members of the community that have really pushed interfaith dialogue.” Readings, which included Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice and the Promise of America by Eboo Patel, and short quizzes designed to test retention and understanding also provided insight into the key messages ingrained in DCP’s A Spectrum of Faith. Patel, who has written the forward for Spectrum, inspires not only interfaith understanding and inclusion but also taking initiative. “We cannot sit back and expect others to fix these problems,” O’Malley explains, “Before, like many other academics, I had no problem brainstorming, but when it came to implement these ideas, I fell short. Now I am able to actually apply my knowledge in a much more practical manner, all thanks to this class.”

The goal of any course is to encourage growth and depth of understanding. For O’Malley, this class was an eye-opening experience, where equality and social justice are brought to the main stage as students interacted with several of the religions featured in A Spectrum of Faith. “It wasn’t until I explored these communities that I began to see how diverse we really are here in the Des Moines area. This course has motivated me to continue learning about local issues and to further explore other communities other than the Drake community.”

Amanda O’Malley will continue her work with A Spectrum of Faith this semester as a project intern. “I am beyond excited to have the chance to go beyond these three short weeks and spend a semester working to make this project and book the best it can be….I see this as just a start to this conversation around diversity and would like to see change as a result.” As a community and university press, DCP is always on the lookout for students willing to contribute their unique insight to help produce the best quality projects. For more information on how you can get involved with the Drake Community Press, check out the Intern With Us tab. We would love to hear from you!

Did you know this J-term was featured in the Des Moines Register? Check it out here!