It began with late night chats in Hodges Library.
"We'd talk economics, politics, and philosophy for almost two hours at a time, but then nothing really came of that," said Patrick Caveney, co-founder of UT's new Academic Journal Club.
From these informal meetings, the AJC was born. Created to facilitate roundtable academic discussions, the AJC aims to gather students with a passion for discovery and conversation."Each topic is broad and comes from all of our respective disciplines," Caveney said. "We want that kind of interaction between the majors because too often we can get so focused on our majors that we forget to look up and look around."
Through taking a technical writing class, Caveney, a graduate student in energy science and engineering, began to interact with seemingly unrelated areas of study. It was here the idea behind AJC first emerged.
"I was in a technical writing course and I was presenting on my work, which was genetic engineering," Caveney said. "Someone brought up the question, 'What about the ethical issues with this?' And I hadn't even thought about that. That was something so removed."
Later, Caveney encountered students with similar ideas. Marrying these meetings with the desire to hold a TEDxUTK conference, Hajie Sesay, Kent Connell, and Julie Hipp co-founded AJC with Caveney.
Sesay, a senior in political science and African studies, explained the purpose of AJC in a broader context.
"Let's say a chemical engineer is working on some project, (and) there's the ethical issues there," Sesay said. "There's the legislative issues maybe when it comes to governance. So we want to have that holistic perspective of viewing things.
"So bringing students together and looking at research that are fact, that are tested, that people have studied. I think we need to create that atmosphere to have that holistic perspective of things. Everything is interconnected. That's how we feel and that's been a driving force behind AJC."
Nicole Fazio-Viegel, associate director for the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, was pleased to support Caveney and Sesay in their endeavor.
"In our work with National Scholarships and Fellowships we need students who are talking with one another about important issues, dialoguing, asking questions, bouncing ideas off of each other before they even really think about national scholarships and fellowships," Fazio-Viegel said. "It really makes a lot of sense for the work that we do."
As the Assistant Director in the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, Fazio-Veigel encourages potential scholarship applicants to join AJC.
"All of this is in preparation for having to do that in writing for a national scholarship or in best case scenario having to do that in an interview situation where they'll be asked the difficult questions or they'll be asked about foreign policy somewhere else and they need to be able to talk about it," Fazio-Viegel said.
In February, AJC will help bring a TEDx conference to campus, an effort primarily spearheaded by members Katie Rogers and Chris Barnes. In abbreviated TED talks, the conference will combine alumni, faculty and current Knoxville community members. Fazio-Viegel views the conference as an excellent extension of AJC's initiatives and principles.
"I think it's interesting that they're open to this notion of indisciplinarity," Fazio-Viegel said. "We're talking beyond the disciplines that they individually represent. It's very exciting and I think TEDx is a culminating event that reinforces that notion."
AJC meets everytwo weeks on Wednesday in Room 118 in the Baker Center. More information can be found on their website. Their next meeting is Wednesday at 6 p.m. where the group will discuss the topic of intellectual property rights.