About Q Magazine

Welcome to Q Magazine, a showcase for inspired environmental writing at the University of Illinois.

Q Magazine features outstanding articles by U of I students, most of them enrolled in the Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Writing (CEW), a joint venture of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), the School for Earth, Society, and Environment (SESE), and the English Department.

When enrolled in the CEW capstone course (ESE 498), students have the opportunity to submit their writing for publication in Q, working closely with instructors and production staff to develop their work to a professional, publishable standard.

The motto of the CEW is “turning data into narrative” — to absorb the latest environmental research and communicate that research effectively to the public. Certificate courses allow students to engage with the latest on-campus research in sustainability science and identify environmental issues they are passionate about. Whether dropping in to take one of our courses or completing the full three-course sequence, students work with dedicated professors, meet enthusiastic students from disciplines all across campus, and build marketable skills in environmental communication.

Enjoy these student voices, broadcasters for change and a livable planet. 

Our Gracious Donor …

A very special thanks to Janelle Joseph, who has continued her support of the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) with several donations of $5,000 apiece to help Q Magazine student writers go on location and research their stories. Her gifts have also funded the Janelle Joseph Environmental Writing Contest, which debuted in 2020 and offered U of I undergraduates the opportunity to submit articles for cash awards and publication in Q! Several prize-winning articles are featured in Volume 3, Issue 2.

“Through my dear friend Joel Friedman, I became aware of iSEE’s dedicated programs,” said Joseph, pictured here with her dog Moonbeam. “The planet and the environment are where all things future begin. All needs and other great causes depend on where we live and are safe.

“After hearing about iSEE and Q Magazine, I felt HOPE, for the first time in many years, that brilliant young people are working on improvements and solutions.”

With Joseph’s funding, student writers are inspired to explore environmental issues up close and in person.

We are grateful!

Enter the Janelle Joseph Writing Contest!

Are you an eco-warrior with a passion for prose? Each summer, University of Illinois undergraduates are invited to submit their best environmental writing for a chance to be published in Q Magazine and win a cash prize! The Janelle Joseph Prize for Environmental Writing was created in 2020 through the generosity of donor Janelle Joseph. Our inaugural contest winners covered topics ranging from the degradation of the coal industry and life in a “burn zone” to sustainable fashion and the future of lawns. Read more about the 2020 winning entries!

Submit in one of these five categories:

  • Feature — In-depth, research-based piece on a topic of your choice (Example: “Burn Zone” by Andy Sima; Volume 3.2, 2020 JJ Environmental Writing Contest Grand Prizewinner) 
  • Memoir — Write about an experience that YOU had with nature, and what it meant to you (Example: “Solastalgia” by Maria Maring; Volume 3.2, 2020 JJ Environmental Writing Contest Category Prizewinner) 
  • Op-Ed — Your research-backed take on a current environmental “hot topic” (Example: “End to Greenwashing?” by Jennifer Coronel; Volume 3.2, 2020 JJ Environmental Writing Contest Category Prizewinner) 
  • Q&A — Interview an environmental researcher or activist
  • “@ Illinois” — Submit a piece in any of the above genres spotlighting innovative environmental research, activism, or stewardship at the University of Illinois. 


Contest details:

Grand Prize: $1,000 + publication in Q; Category Prizes: $500 + publication in Q.

Eligibility: Open to Illinois undergraduates only; Length: 1,000-2,000 words.

Deadline: Entries accepted July 1-Sept. 30, 2021; Contact: Email submissions and questions to qmagazineillinois@gmail.com

Q Magazine Editorial Board (emailus at qmagazineillinois@gmail.com)

Gillen Wood (Editor)

Associate Director, Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE). Author of the award-winning book Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World (Princeton, 2014). His newest book, on Antarctica, titled Land of Wondrous Cold (Princeton), was published in March 2020.

John Levi Barnard 

Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature and Environmental Humanities. Author of Empire of Ruin: Black Classicism and American Imperial Culture (Oxford University Press, 2017). His current book project examines the interrelated histories of U.S. empire, industrial food, and mass extinction.

Lucinda Cole

Visiting Associate Professor of English. Her book Imperfect Creatures: Vermin, Literature, and the Science of Life, 1660-1740 explores relationships among literature, agricultural, and environmental pressures during the Little Ice Age. She is now working on two book-length projects related to ecology and the One Health movement.

Jamie L. Jones

Assistant Professor, English. Her current book project, Rendered Obsolete: The Afterlife of U.S. Whaling in the Petroleum Age, chronicles the culture of the U.S. whaling industry from its peak production through its obsolescence.

Rob Kanter 

Clinical Associate Professor, School of Earth, Society, and Environment (SESE). Creator and author of the popular Environmental Almanac.

Sarah Gediman

Q Magazine‘s Volume 3 Student Editor is a Winter 2020 graduate from the University of Illinois. She earned her B.A. in History and Environmental Sustainability and is interested in working toward a sustainable future through journalism and editing.

Jenna Kurtzweil 

Senior Communications Specialist, Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE); Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI). Former Q Student Editor (Fall 2019 issue).

Tony Mancuso 

Communications and Public Affairs Director, Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE); Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI).

April Wendling

iSEE Communications Intern and former Q Student Editor (Spring 2020 issue).

Julie Wurth

Communications Specialist, Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE); Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI).