The Flow of The Current: A Look at Our Work Processes

The Flow of The Current: A Look at Our Work Processes

Mitch Carr

January 28, 2021

Words are powerful tools because the use of narrative and storytelling shapes the world that surrounds us. As a group of writers, the spring semester 2021 Current staff is built by a diverse group of Michigan State University Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures students. This department at MSU is trying to best prepare its students to enter the industry with the ability to craft the stories that need to be told. 

The Current is a recurring class offered to junior and senior students each semester. However, even though The Current is technically a class, it operates as a real-world magazine publication that utilizes experiential learning. Using this learning model, the students gain insights and experiences into the publishing industry and processes. 

The Cube is a publishing nexus housed in WRAC. It missions itself on open-access, equitable and just projects. Kate Birdsall, teacher of The Current and director of The Cube, purposefully runs her classrooms in a manner which allows students to develop professional portfolios through polished publications. 

The benefits of using an experiential learning approach is abundantly evident in classrooms, which gives students the ability and opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills to solve real world problems. And, since this class runs as a real world publication would, students get real-time mentoring from Birdsall, the “editor-in-chief,” and the other staff members. Even during these uncertain times, meeting via Zoom has continued to work and foster collaborative writings. 

The staff this semester is made up of 15 undergraduate students, 1 graduate student, 1 graphic designer and the editor-in-chief, who are hoping to use their words as tools for social justice and change. Social movements require the hard task of creating new vocabularies,  and the voices of the spring semester 2021 staff hope to highlight this language in their articles. You can read more about future goals and plans in the next article in our flow of The Current series. 

Each semester produces two full magazines, one per season. Spring 2021 will produce a summer issue and a fall issue. To make sure all students are getting the most of the experience, the class is set up in two distinct teams. Students join either the team of writers or the team of editors, and each team works on one issue before switching to the opposite team for the next issue. This switch allows students to get writing experience and editorial experience. Like last semester, all published articles from The Current will be digital because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In addition to working on two new issues, students have the opportunity to write online exclusive opinion articles. These online exclusives undergo a typical industry process. Students are required to pitch, research, write, work with designers and help promote these articles, all of which further students’ experiences in the class and prepare them for industry post-graduation. 

Stay up to date with the staff’s online exclusives on The Current website. And, if you think you have an article idea that needs attention, submit a pitch idea to one of the staff writers by emailing The Cube

Mitch Carr is a first year master’s student studying digital rhetorics and professional writing, with an emphasis on publishing. He graduated from Michigan State University in May of 2020 with an English and creative writing B.A. As part of his master’s studies, he works alongside The Cube director and The Current editor-in-chief, Kate Birdsall, as a graduate research assistant. The future career path for Mitch is to work in the advertising field, with hopes to bring the ethos back to the capitalistic industry, preferably in a coastal city. (Twitter handle @ carr_mitch // Instagram handle @ carrmitc)