News and Events
School of Public Policy Grad Spearheads New Scholarly Journal
Not too many graduate students can honestly say that they've left an indelible mark on their institution. But Matt Piccolo, 2008 graduate of the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, is not like many other graduate students. He pioneered the first-ever edition of the Pepperdine Policy Review, a student-run journal designed to spark conversation among public policy thinkers and showcase the best scholarly work of Pepperdine students.
"When I first came to Pepperdine, I knew that the school could really benefit from a journal," Piccolo recalls. "All of the top public policy schools have a scholarly publication." Yet he was met with resistance when he first broached the topic with a faculty member. "He thought it was a really good idea, but said that other students had tried it without success in the past because there's no money in the budget and students tend to get too busy during the school year to contribute research."
Undeterred, Piccolo went straight to James Wilburn, dean of the School of Public Policy, and stated his case: "It's important that we have a journal because it gives students an opportunity to get their ideas out there, and it also provides an incentive for improved research, writing, and credibility to our program."
After a month of persistent pestering, Wilburn told Piccolo to put together a plan for the project, including methodology to ensure that the journal would be sustainable for the long-term. Wilburn promised to take a look at it.
"I don't think he expected me to do it," Piccolo laughs. But the public policy student went to work and soon enough, a compelling proposal sat between him and the dean. Once a few kinks were worked out, a firm handshake followed and by October, the first issue of the Pepperdine Policy Review was set into motion.
Piccolo found a faculty advisor in James Prieger; together they organized an editorial board and welcomed applicants for student editors. "There was a lot of interest from the beginning," remembers Piccolo, who whittled down 18 applicants to 10 editors.
The next step was to put out a call for submissions. "My goal was to make this a student journal," Piccolo says. "A lot of schools have outside scholars who write the articles, but ours is for the students, by the students." The editorial board received a wealth of submissions and, after a difficult process of elimination, eight of the 16 articles were chosen for publication.
"After months of careful planning and meticulous editing, we present to our readers the fruits of our labors in the inaugural volume of Pepperdine Policy Review," writes Piccolo in an introductory "Message from the Editor."
The journal debuted June 16 on the School of Public Policy Web site and the print edition follows next month. Although Piccolo has graduated and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah for a position as a policy analyst at the Sutherland Institute, he is very happy to see his plan come to fruition.
"It's pretty amazing to see it in its final form, considering it started with everyone telling me it wasn't going to happen. I'm really very grateful and happy with the end result."
The inaugural edition touts four academic articles, one alumni feature, and three shorter commentaries. "One good thing about this year's journal is there's a wide variety of topics, ranging from the environment to healthcare to political philosophy," Piccolo says.
The students and faculty are also pleased with the first edition. "It showcases a variety of pieces that will stimulate any intellect," notes publishing editor Pooja Jhobalia (MPP '09, SPP).
Wilburn recognized Piccolo's significant efforts as well, selecting him as the first recipient of the prestigious Earl and Terralynn Swift Scholarship in the School of Public Policy.
"Piccolo demonstrated extraordinary energy, creativity, and determination against significant challenges in leading the effort to begin the new student-led Pepperdine Policy Review," Wilburn says. "His ability to marshal the commitment of members of the faculty, fellow students, and the school's administration, demonstrated the wisdom of selecting him."
To keep the Policy Review going Piccolo has selected Nicolas Valbuena as the new editor-in-chief for next year's edition and named Ryan Peterson managing editor.
"Based on the interest that I've seen from faculty, students, and staff, I have a great deal of confidence in the future of the Policy Review," Piccolo says. "I'm hoping that in the long run it will raise the caliber of writing in the school immensely and it will become recognized among policy schools as a journal that provides solid academic research and interesting commentary."
Check out the Web version of the first annual Pepperdine Policy Review: http://publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/policy-review/
by Audra Quinn