Over the past academic year I have been working on my senior thesis in different parts and iterations. Looking backwards and forwards I will reflect on the ways in which my communication and understanding of my work has changed over the past year.
Beginning with my environmental theory work in the fall of 2019 I began to create a framework of theories and scholarly research to back up my ideas. In this process I settled on a guiding question that would help me to structure the rest of my work for the coming months. The framing question was, how can elementary education prepare students to enact change in our global food systems? This question has remained the same throughout all of my research and continues to help guide me as a finish up the final edits on my thesis. Having a strong framing question has helped me to think about what I want the final outcome to be and is important to refer back to when I feel lost in the weeds of my methodology and results.
Over the past few weeks I have been working on finalizing my methodology and results, making sure that they are coherent with the rest of my work. I have been having a much harder time with this process and have noticed many iterations and changes when reflecting back on work from even a few weeks or days ago. In the past few days I was able to finalize my focus question and am still working on creating a clear final answer or argument for the last concluding parts of my research. Using my framing question to guide me, I know I want the outcome of my work to demonstrate how garden education needs to approach teaching through a more global lense, making sure that students are able to continue developing and learning in these areas throughout their adolescence. I have figured out that the concept of spatial scales will help me to demonstrate this by asking the question of how are the spatial scales related to food systems emphasized in non-profit garden education. Finally figuring out this question I have come to the realization that I had to finish all of my results before I could understand what I was able to answer with them. Knowing the results and materials available to me has been critical in finalizing my work.
The final aspect of my capstone that I have been struggling with is communicating my process and results to others outside of my immediate circle of classmates and professors. This semester I have been working at Growing Gardens, a non-profit in Portland. At this internship I have been able to develop close relationships with some of the staff and they have been very influential in my work. Many of them I was able to interview and others have become friends. I struggle to communicate my work to them often because I care so deeply of what they think of me as a person and how they would perceive my work. I am worried that they will think of my work as being critical or slightly misinformed. I am hoping that as I continue to work on my thesis, finalizing the argument I will feel more confident in sharing my work, and by the end maybe even receive some positive feedback from them.