Over the course of my final semester at Lewis and Clark College, I have been through a few iterations of how to attack my thesis. There has been both consistency and major changes since January and I would like to take the chance to talk through them as to paint a better picture for others in the future who may be working on their own thesis and anyone that is somewhat interested on how I came to my final outcomes.
To start, the ‘big thing’ that I have pondered all this time has been my framing question. “How can we move towards radical environmental policy and away from incremental policies?” This has been my topic since the beginning and it has been my interest for a very long time. My opinion, in order to mitigate and adapt to climate change, is to make that big scale change sooner rather than later. Incremental change, simply put, is the action of taking a longer time to implement a law, policy, action, etc, so that it is easier on individuals and society as a whole. This has been the favored approach for some time now, especially on the international and national scale. Through all my iterations, I have not liked this approach. Yes, it does make sense and can work, but as the world has shown, very little progress has been made using it. That is why I believe it is important that we must use policy as a way to make the change for individuals and communities that must be followed. Radical action is the core to my thesis and I have not wavered from it.
An example of something that has changed throughout the few iterations of my thesis, is that of my situated contexts. I initially had in mind to look at radical and incremental policy in the context of international affairs through treaties and global organizations. However, I learned quickly that this was no small feat and to zoom in on my topic at basically the largest scale out there proved to be not as useful and vague. I wanted to study cases such as the Montreal Protocol because of its more radical approach to change and because of the general success it had on the reduction of the Ozone hole. The Incremental treaty/protocol that was going to be studied was that of the Paris Accords because of the legal weakness it carried and the practically zero outcomes that have been produced. This sounded very interesting as an idea, but the source material was quite hard to come by and with some guidance from teachers I decided to make my situated context a bit smaller. That is when I had the idea of studying the current green new deals proposed by the democratic party in the U.S. I thought this would be cool, but learned quickly again with some research that there just was not enough information that could lead me to a favorable outcome. That is when I finally decided to go smaller with Portland. For one, this made my research much more accessible and is a place that I have some good knowledge of already. I decided instead of just looking at one city, to do a comparison between that of Portland and the U.S. A comparison at two different scales excited me and I had some good feedback from peers and teacher. That is where I am now and where my thesis has taken me.
Research and Outcomes
In terms of my middle and bottom of the hourglass, these were areas that developed more as I decided on looking at Portland and the U.S. as my case study. I knew from the get go that I was going to do some sort of policy analysis to determine which one was more radical and incremental. My outcome as I zoomed out was all based on those findings, so there was not much of an evolution throughout the semester, as that is somewhat difficult to determine without research.
Overall, my big picture stayed the same, while my situated context went through the most evolution. Tackling a smaller scale place is easier than that of a big scale ‘thing.’ Everything that followed was built off after my decision of looking at Portland and the U.S.