Despite my evolving interests and inspirations, everything ranging from supplemental assignments to intensive research projects has unwittingly contributed to a final project: a capstone on wild foods utilization. Taking place throughout a series of evolving contexts, my capstone is an account of my experiences working with a wide range of disciplines as well as changing expectations and contexts.
As the first week of the first environmental studies course will inform you, interdisciplinarity is the core of the program’s approach to every piece of coursework and every conversation. Finding ways to acknowledge and articulate a particular standpoint, whether looking at a piece of policy or in an informal conversation, has greatly contributed to my individual capacity to understand and integrate various sources into my discussion.
Using another environmental studies buzzword, this ‘weaving’ of perspectives and corresponding information helps contribute to a more comprehensive and cohesive piece of work. While much of this had explicitly taken place during environmental theory and the development of my framework, I must constantly circle back to preexisting literature and academia to situate my work within much larger fields and conversations: ethnobotany, food systems, and agriculture, wilderness and landscape interactions, dietary patterns and preferences, and regional identity.
Other smaller, more obvious skills have reappeared as I flipped through cookbooks and crunched the data I had gathered. One of these, which had originally been introduced in the major’s methods course was the versatility of spreadsheets. I was able to hone these skills throughout courses such as environmental engagement, economics, and sociology; each of these courses was drastically different, requiring me to adapt my abilities. The execution of my methods through this format allowed me to organize and adapt the resulting statistics and figures to best present my quantitative work.
Although I have already alluded to this, my environmental studies background and preparation has shown itself most useful in my resilience and self-sufficiency. This skill has been forged by tasks and challenges at every size: miscommunications and changing assignment expectations, tedium, and busywork, changing capstone topics to educational formats. Although many of these experiences were to my chagrin (notably the busy work), this completing such a large project on a small timeline has demanded an unprecedented amount of fortitude and self-accountability. This has become that much more poignant in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and transitioning to virtual classes, where the majority of structure has been removed and collaborative learning opportunities are almost entirely gone.