Joshua Kruskal, MSESP Class of 2020

Joshua Kruskal, MS in Environmental Science and Policy, Class of 2020, and Editor-in-Chief of Chicago Policy Review, shares how the journal shaped him as a writer.

Being a part of the Chicago Policy Review (CPR) has been a transformative experience and a defining aspect of my time at Harris. With more than 100 staff members, CPR is Harris’ largest student organization by a substantial margin: about one in ten Harris students contribute in one capacity or another, covering the full spectrum of domestic and international policy issues. As Editor-in-Chief, my job is to channel our staff’s collective policy knowledge into insightful, engaging content that will appeal to a broad audience. This role certainly comes with its fair share of challenges, but working to overcome these challenges has been a phenomenally rewarding experience.

My CPR journey began with my first article—a story about light pollution and its negative effects on ecosystems. Drafting this and subsequent articles provided me with a much-appreciated creative outlet during Harris’ intensely quantitative core course sequence. Most Harris students have to wait until their third quarter to take electives that address specific policy areas (health, education, etc.), but CPR staff writers have the opportunity to do work that aligns with their interests from day one.

By the time they finish core, CPR writers will have already accumulated an impressive portfolio of published work on topics that matter to them, and which they may wish to pursue in a professional capacity in the near future.

In my first year at Harris, I worked as a Senior Editor for CPR’s Science and Technology section. In this role, together with a small, dedicated team of staff writers, I worked to ensure that our section met ambitious publication goals quarter after quarter. I became Editor-in-Chief a year later, and over the last few months I’ve been working with the rest of our board to recruit and train staff, manage our production pipeline, and implement systems to keep CPR running smoothly for many years to come.

In a school as quantitatively focused as Harris, the Chicago Policy Review is something of an oddity. Harris’ approach to policymaking emphasizes data and rigorous analysis. At CPR, we take all the models and equations and distill them down to their most essential parts—and then our job is to tell people why these parts are important, and why they should care.

For many students, working for CPR is a way to hone writing, critical thinking, and other vital qualitative skills that complement the quantitative skillset developed in the core. For students who pursue leadership roles, CPR can also impart valuable lessons in effectively managing teams, projects, and budgets.

These skills can, of course, help set CPR staff members apart from the competition when it comes to applying for jobs and internships. To me, however, the real value of being a part of CPR (or any student organization, for that matter) comes from being part of a group and having a meaningful extracurricular experience that genuinely enriches the all-too-brief time we have at Harris. My advice to new students would be to take a chance—put your name on the signup sheet and see where it takes you.

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