What do college students think about? Tom Lombardo, CSOM ’17, and his conglomerate of philosophy-minded friends wanted to find out. In Spring 2017, they published the fourth edition of Dianoia, Boston College’s only undergraduate philosophy journal.
Dianoia consists of seven essays, submitted by students from Boston and around the world. The first issue was published in 2012, but in 2014 interest in the journal died out. After a three-year hiatus, Lombardo, the editor-in-chief, and his staff decided to revive the journal, publishing what Lombardo described as a “quasi-inaugural edition.”
Working from scratch presented its challenges, Lombardo said. First, they had to secure funding from the University to even get Dianoia off the ground. Eileen Sweeney, a professor in the philosophy department provided the initial idea of rekindling Dianoia, but it was up to managing editors Peter Klapes and Jordan Pino, MCAS ’19 and MCAS ’17, to go get the money.
Eventually, the Institute for Liberal Arts, a BC-based organization “dedicated to fostering innovative programs in the liberal arts,” provided the journal with the funding it needed.
After getting the money in the bank, Lombardo and his staff of 11 began work on the production of the journal. Originally, the journal was only supposed to consist of essays from BC students, but Lombardo recognized a need for a Boston-wide publication that included the other esteemed institutions of higher learning in Boston, Cambridge, Medford, and the surrounding area.
“There was definitely a need for it,” Lombardo said. “Undergraduate philosophy doesn’t get a lot of focus. But we live in the Mecca of Academia, and [we] figured that having these amazing schools sit around and have nowhere for these students to publish was kind of awful.”
So the process began. The editors of Dianoia began soliciting submissions from across Boston, receiving submissions of every type from practically every place, making a special effort to get submissions from Catholic institutions across the nation. Ultimately, essays from Notre Dame, Boston University, Harvard, Middlebury, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute all made the cut, alongside an essay from BC.
The finished product, however, conceals the long hours put into its production. Lombardo and Co. were responsible for sorting through every submission, some of which came from as far as the United Kingdom, going through four rounds of editing. They went through the process of making Dianoia available on the Open Journal System (OJS), cataloguing it as an ISSN, and sending copies to the Library of Congress to be permanently preserved.
“Our entire staff took on a lot of responsibility,” Lombardo said. “Jordan, Peter, and myself have closed down Stokes Hall probably a dozen times this semester because of how late we were working.”
It is surprising, then, to see Lombardo struggle for words when asked why he went through such an extensive process to produce Dianoia. At the end of the day, though, Lombardo said it came down to the fact that students needed an outlet to write their philosophical musings. Dianoia provided a method through which students could propagate undergraduate philosophy research, which can be something that is difficult to do.
Lombardo said that the fact they got so many submissions from so many places is a testament to the need for such a journal in Boston.
“If there wasn’t a market for it, we wouldn’t be here,” Lombardo said. “Philosophy can often be neglected by those outside philosophy circles, so it’s good that we were able to produce this.”
Not only is Lombardo proud of the production of Dianoia, but it helped him form new friendships and rekindle old ones. The late nights and long hours took the small team of editors from acquaintances to close friends, one of whom Lombardo had known since he was Cub Scout in his hometown. Now, he said, he has a close friend that he can grab a beer with when the stresses of the world back home pile up.
Equally as important as the close relationships he formed was the actual publication of Dianoia. As of now, the journal stands as the only undergraduate philosophy publication in the city of Boston, something that Lombardo says is vital to understanding the foundations of our cultural heritage. This understanding is why Dianoia is important—as a Jesuit institution it is BC’s responsibility to teach students how to think. Dianoia is simply the vehicle through which these students have done it.
Featured Image by Archer Parquette / Heights Editor