*image: (believed to be) Georgia O’keeffe’s recipe for chicken flautas, by Colin Clark for the New York Times*
My capstone has become a research project dedicated to articulating (theoretical) language for what I refer to as pluralism in the environmental public sphere. Since its conception (in Fall 2019 term), my capstone has retained this focus.
But where I initially lacked or had just a preliminary grasp on terms I saw fit to use in argument, I now have a coherent argument. Below is “data” from my history of assignments between November and end of March. I think it’s pretty cool to watch the progression in substance, clarity, and language! I’ll break it down a little more to wrap up this post.
Change in framing question
- November 14, 2019: How do we care for each other and earth in an unequal world?
- December 18, 2019: How might we better care for each other and earth in a divided public?
- February 29, 2020: How might we afford a more generous public sphere?
- March 27, 2020: How might we support less divisive politics in the environmental public sphere?
Changes in focus and focus question
- November 14: N/A
- December 18 (Theme): Exploring theory in the context of generational succession of working lands in Oregon
- February 29 (Question): How might a rethinking of disagreement in politics, morality, and reality give us tools for managing pluralism in the environmental public sphere?
- March 27: How can a divisive environmental public sphere be re-conceptualized to better understand what underlies disagreement?
Theory sections in body of essay
- November 14 (Three bodies of theory): Care/feminist ethics; Modernity; Public Sphere
- December 18: (same as above)
- February 29 (Three theory sections): Engagement in the public sphere; An ethics of care; Critical social perspectives (or, Politics is more than what we think)
- March 27 (Three argumentative sections): Pluralism in the environmental public sphere; Social stratification, political polarization and environmental pluralism; Rethinking environmental pluralism
It becomes evident, just looking at the monthly changes from late November through late March, that this project grew immensely from nothing to something in just four (really three) months. I’ll close by offering comments on three significant shifts in my work that aren’t readily evident in the descriptive “data” above.
First, my early drafts—up through late February—retained a literature review esque theoretical body. That is, it was very difficult for me to develop argumentative structure by weaving theory from across disciplines, and in the end it took a long time—up through my very final draft.
Second, early language in my capstone shows the normative focus/argument I was striving to have—centered around care ethics—that after a round of review by my honors committee on the February draft, I decided was not a direction I wanted to go while honing in on the argumentative body of my paper.
Finally, it is interesting to watch my framework of the “environmental public sphere” come to life over the months; this is one of the contributions my capstone makes, that I am most proud of, as it actually moves forward theory that hasn’t been done, to date.