Through the mudd

Spring is here, snow is melting, and the ground is muddy!IMG_3157

 

This week, I must admit, I don’t have much to report. I am kind of just moving forward, through the mud, trying to get manuscripts moving forward, slowly but surely.

My second chapter on the context within which Montreal P recycling (or not recycling) happens, is proving to be very difficult to write. I have a story to tell, I am clear on the story, but I need to organize it and support it with the right structure (applying the right framework) and building blocks (diverse data sources and literature support) and that is proving very difficult. Thankfully my story is relevant and really echoed by people I meet. I have actually had the chance to meet with three different people who are not involved in research about P, but rather the waste management and/or food production systems and sustainability in and around Montreal. They all connected with how I presented my analysis of the current situation and were interested in my suggestions for moving forward. Still, I need a big push to make the actual manuscript come together, talking and hypothesizing isn’t enough.

I also spotted a post on Urban Agriculture (with a contribution from a friend of mine) that reflects the diversity of situations, perspectives and the importance of definitions. I think my work fills a small niche in the midst of all of the UA discussion, and I also think I try to be careful not to oversell it.

I am also continuing to look at post-doc opportunities, and thus thinking about proposal writing, and also about teaching philosophy. I haven’t really written a research proposal in a while, and certainly not about anything outside of phosphorus. I am excited to expand my research horizon (I have always been interested in the interactions between many resources and priorities in sustainable agriculture and sustainable cities so now is the time to actually look at those interacting things), but I am also feeling scared about actually taking-on subjects I am more unfamiliar with. I know I have the tools to get the information I need to write a proposal, but the task still feels overwhelming.

“Oh my gosh, how will I be sure I have really reviewed the appropriate literature?, Are these really interesting questions? How do I balance writing my manuscripts and researching this new proposal topic?”

I know this inner monologue isn’t the most rational. Really researchers are always juggling these issues, and it many ways this is what makes research so much fun; always asking new questions and furthering knowledge. But still, this doesn’t make me less scared.

In terms of teaching philosophy, I know that I want to encourage critical thinking, systems thinking, and balance basic knowledge, project learning, and discussion. There are many ways to do all that, and I know that one can’t just take advice or existing materials and frameworks “as is”. One must adapt so that it matches one’s personality and style, and grow from there. I read a little on the One Class at a Time model at Cornell which has many positives. What actually got me reading the article were the very first lines about dreaming of math. This is something I experienced a lot at the end of high school, and through college, and it was so nice to see I was not the only one! I like the idea of being fully engaged with material. But on the other hand, I am a system thinker, and I love to make connections between classes and between material I see in many classes (and honestly between my personal life and reading, and the work I do). I like to see connections. I have yet to write a formal teaching philosophy statement, but i am banking material to draw upon.

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