UOW international affairs student Erica Bell. Photo: Paul Jones

Student-run journal attracts interest from international affairs scholars

Student-run journal attracts interest from international affairs scholars

Erica Bell founded Frontier to create opportunities for UOW students in competitive market

When Erica Bell was struggling to find opportunities to work or intern in her dream career, she decided to forge her own path.

The University of Wollongong undergraduate is passionate about international affairs, but saw that it was an incredibly difficult field to break in to, particularly for students in regional areas.

Instead, Erica saw a chance to create her own opportunities, not just for herself, but for her fellow students.

And so Frontier was born. The academic journal, which has just celebrated its first anniversary, is led by a team of undergraduate students at UOW, and has been gaining attention around the country for its sharp articles, strong voices, and fresh insight into issues of diplomacy, politics and international affairs.

The peer-review, student-led journal is growing with every issue. So far, the team have published one complete volume, split into two issues. 

Erica was inspired to launch Frontier after realising that so many talented students were struggling to gain a foothold in an incredibly competitive field.

“I started brainstorming Frontier in 2018. I realised there were major publications that had begun as student-led journals. I saw the potential and drive of students in my university's Politics and International Studies classes, and with the help of a few academics and keen students who went out of their way, I started creating this initiative,” said Erica, who is in her final year of a Bachelor of International Studies (Honours).

“We launched our first issue, a print edition, in Spring 2019 at Innovation Campus. I wanted to start my own thing as a way to get my foot in the door, and for UOW students to get more experience before entering competitive job markets.” 

Since it launched, Frontier has begun to attract interest from students around the country, with article submissions from undergraduates at the University of Queensland, Notre Dame University, Macquarie University and Australian National University. 

The student-run editorial board oversees all submissions for Frontier, which follows a theme for each edition. The submissions are then reviewed and fact-checked by an advisory board of UOW academics and PhD students. The team is in the process of creating Frontier Review, a blog that will allow submissions all year round, enabling students, academics and alumni to write on a topic of their choice.

For Erica, seeing the project come to fruition, and gaining national attention, has been a rewarding experience. Even more so in a year in which the ability for students to travel and access work experience or internships has been affected.

Her own passion for international affairs began at an early age. Erica began learning Japanese at the age of nine, and had a fascination for other cultures and the value of languages in creating connection.

While she has been lucky enough to study overseas three times during her degree at UOW – in Japan, China, and Timor Leste – Erica said internships and practical work experience is incredibly difficult to find in the field of international affairs. The aim of Frontier was to help UOW students stand out from the crowd.

“The mission of the journal is to amplify the voices of young people on international affairs and give them valuable professional experience.

“When there are hundreds of applications for one job or internship, it is so hard to stand out. But Frontier has really helped with that, because it is something tangible that students can point to and demonstrate their skills, outside of essay writing.

“Word of mouth has really kept it going.”

Erica will step down as Executive Director after the current issue as she finishes her studies. But she is proud of all that Frontier has achieved so far and can’t wait to see where the journal goes next.

“This would have been impossible without all the great students in our faculty. They were the ones who made it possible, with the support of the academics. It’s going to be really cool to see how Frontier continues to grow once I leave UOW.”