The last few months have been spent building a cohesive and inclusive framework to prepare for the upcoming thesis course in "Environment" is a word so embedded in environmental discourse and scholarship that it has effectively disappeared. We all know what the environment is—or do we? And what do our unexamined assumptions about environment mean for how we approach environmental issues? A careful examination of the word might lead us to... More Studies here at Lewis & Clark College. By going deeper into environmental discourse while simultaneously synthesizing our interdisciplinary experience by zooming out on our last four years here at Lewis & Clark, I have come to build a framework that I am looking forward to exploring in my thesis spring course. This post will summarize those steps I have taken in the last few months to explain how my framework came to be.
At the beginning of the semester, we spent a tremendous amount of time building our area of interest, the first step in creating our comprehensive framework for our thesis. We were asked to think about our experience within the Environmental Studies major and pick out interesting experiences, concepts, or ideas that we wanted to explore further in our senior year. As someone who had decided not to go with my area of interest proposal from Environmental Analysis (ENVS220), I knew that I had to come up with a new topic. During this time, intense wildfires were spread everywhere in the Pacific Northwest and I realized that my entire experience here at Lewis & Clark – as well as my abroad program – was shaped in the discourse of fire. As I started building my area of interest around fire, I kept adding layers of discourse and ideas that I have acquired from various courses and personal experiences throughout my college experience. Conclusively, I was curious to look into the relationship between fire and conservation as my thesis topic.
As the semester progressed, I started building on my area of interest and added compelling questions I had in regards to how the relationship between fire and conservation functions and how it could be improved. As we delved into the second unit of this course and we started to acquire a more comprehensive discourse around environmental theory, I started implementing these concepts and approaches into my framework as we went along. I started thinking about how different concepts we learned about would fuel my area of interest (i.e cultural theory, political economy, indigenous knowledge, economies of scale, The concept of reality is vague and the concept of nature is even more so, so how can these terms be grounded by universal definitions? Simply, it cannot and must be evaluated along a continuum of ambiguity grounded in different perspectives of reality. Nature is not defined solely in its... More) and as this went on the discourse around my initial area of interest started to expand. During this process, I also started thinking about various framing questions that could embody what my framework represented. Coming up with multiple framing questions was easier than anticipated, however, the harder part became when I had to narrow it down to only one framing question that could encompass all my ideas for my framework. However, as you can see in the embedded PDF, I did eventually come up with a framing question.
I also spent a great deal finalizing the framework elements that I wanted to use for my upcoming thesis. It was evident that I was going to approach my thesis from the elements of Conservation and Fire Ecology, however, I wanted to include a third element that could enhance my research as well as the potential discourses for my framing question. I ended up exploring the concept of Narratology because during my meeting with Jim Proctor we discussed how my framing question and potential research concerns how people’s perceptions of fire are a major component in my thesis. Narratology will give me the opportunity to bring in the discourse around narratives and how narratives have shaped our understanding of my two other framework elements. These three framework elements together would give me a stable and fundamental ground for my thesis work.
As the semester got closer toward the end, I moved forward in my framework and started to build on the situated context as well as some focus questions. My situated context was fairly easy to establish since I knew I wanted to do a comparative analysis of two regions that dealt with the relationship between fire and conservation differently. I chose my situated context to be both in the Carnarvon Gorge in Australia and the Columbia River Gorge in the United States. I chose these two contexts because they differ drastically in the elements of my framework that I want to explore – fire ecology and conservation – since the Carnarvon Gorge in Australia is highly dependent on fire and the Columbia River Gorge is actively trying to suppress the fire. I am still working on my focus questions because I want to build on these focus questions as I do more reading research into my framework but I have included potential focus questions in my PDF below.
As it looks now, my framework is pretty solid. I have met with both Jim Proctor and Liz Safran about my framework and I feel confident moving to the next stage of the process in creating a thesis and I am excited for the next step which will be diving into a lot of different sources and acquiring as much fundamental knowledge as possible before the spring semester.
My presentation on my framework is shown below: