Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Today's version of my research interests

Part of the PhD process is forming a central research question - fascinating and sometimes exhausting work, especially since it never seems to be "done." But, in preparation for this summer's course in quantitative research methods, I've written this version of my research interests that I'll share here:

I'm interested in the synergistic potential of environmental education and community/institutional collaborations to advance social and environmental justice in food systems. I want to know what environmental education practices, approaches, tools, and measures post-secondary institutions are using (or could be using) to both support and model such food systems. To me, socially and environmentally just food systems are community-supported/community-supportive, resilient, healthy, and affordable/accessible to all. I see this research as relevant to environmental studies because of the complex and dynamic relationships between food systems and ecological systems (production, consumption, waste, biodiversity, climate change), economic systems (agricultural policy, issues of scale, issues of food insecurity/poverty) and social systems (decision-making, social capital, collaborative models, action research). Some of the questions I might ask include: How can/should post-secondary education advance the goals of sustainable development with regard to food? How can/should environmental education empower communities to become food secure as one path to ecological, economic, and social resilience in the Anthropocene? What is/should be the role of post-secondary institutions in these efforts?

What are some institutions, organizations, communities or individuals you know that are involved in this work?

Follow-up, June 2018: 
The PhD journey involves many milestones, about half of which are moments of realization that one's research question is too big, broad, or unfocused to carry out. It's important to document and track one's thinking along the way, not only to leave a trail of "breadcrumb" ideas in case of losing the way, but also to appreciate how far and deep the journey goes. Read more recent blog posts to see how my research questions and approaches have evolved.