Amherst College Press Names Founding Director
December 6, 2013
New Amherst College Press Director Mark D. W. Edington
The Amherst College Press (ACP), a pathbreaking initiative for open-access scholarly publishing in the humanities, will be led by Mark D. W. Edington, Amherst College announced today.
Edington, a social entrepreneur with an extensive background in higher education, will guide Amherst’s digital-first publishing venture, which will solicit and edit peer-reviewed books written by leading scholars in the humanities and the social sciences and then make them freely available online.
Edington is currently the executive director of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, an advanced, cross-university research facility in the behavioral sciences. He will begin his duties as director of the ACP on Jan. 1.
“Mark has a rare and intriguing combination of traits, namely a strong history of collaborating with faculty, an excellent track record of entrepreneurship and starting new enterprises, and a good background in developmental editing and writing,” said Bryn Geffert, librarian of the college at Amherst and founder of the ACP. “He’s also a kind and genial fellow with many admirers at many institutions.”
“We had a very competitive pool of candidates for the directorship of the press, and Mark rose to the top,” said Amherst President Biddy Martin. “His position at the helm of this new endeavor is an important one, and we look forward to his creative leadership and careful stewardship of the press.”
As director, Edington will oversee the launch and then the day-to-day work of the press, which is committed to publishing compelling scholarship in innovative ways. The ACP will integrate itself fully with the campus at large and the college’s library in particular, and will deepen the library’s commitment to providing high-quality scholarship to everybody, everywhere, regardless of means. Edington will serve as the prime spokesperson for the press and an advocate of that philosophy.
“To play a part in bringing scholars’ ideas to the broader community through the ACP’s commitment to open access is thrilling to me—I can’t think of a more exciting challenge than helping launch a press without pages,” said Edington.
In addition to soliciting manuscripts that appeal to a broad swath of educated readers, Edington will manage the editing and reviewing process, work with the college’s IT department to implement a technology platform for manuscripts and devise a creative and effective promotion strategy to help publications find their readers.
“I see the press not merely as a producer of works but as a convener of critical conversations at a moment of ferment in scholarly communication,” Edington said. “The Amherst College Press should be engaged in conversations now emerging in the humanities: What will scholarship in these fields be like in the future? How should it be presented? How do we support the development of knowledge? How can scholars both develop and communicate new knowledge in the decades ahead?”
Throughout his career Edington has made a practice of addressing such broad, strategic issues. In his current role as executive director of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory, he has had principal responsibility for the administration and operational oversight of the lab’s work and represented the lab to constituencies within and beyond Harvard University. Edington previously served in other senior administrative posts at the university, both in Harvard’s Central Administration and at Harvard Divinity School. He has also been an instructor and teaching fellow at Harvard. His expertise is in comparative religion, international relations and the relationship between behavioral science and public policy.
Earlier in his career, Edington worked for 10 years as an analyst at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis—where he also directed the Institute’s publications program—and as consulting editor at Dædalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Ordained in the Episcopal Church, he has served as undergraduate chaplain in The Memorial Church at Harvard and as rector of St. John’s Parish in Newtonville, Mass.
Edington has appeared as a commentator on foreign policy on CNBC and on NPR’s All Things Considered and The Connection. His writings have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Dædalus and the op-ed pages of The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor and Boston Globe. He maintains a blog on The Huffington Post, and is a frequent commentator on New England Public Radio. As a social entrepreneur, he was a co-founder and first president of the American Committees on Foreign Relations and serves as director and board secretary of 2Seeds Network, an international NGO focused on food security in East Africa. He is a member of the board of directors of the Harvard University Employees Credit Union. He holds an A.B. summa cum laude in philosophy and political science from Albion College; a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School; and a master of arts in law and diplomacy from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
All of Edington’s experiences and skills—along with his idealism and practicality—will make him a forward-thinking leader of the press, added Geffert. “We believe he will demonstrate that it’s possible for a small institution to produce excellent work under an open-access model,” he said. “He is, in a sense, developing a proof of concept, and he’s determined to show that an idealistic undertaking is more than idealism—it’s actually doable.”