Friday, July 04, 2014
back to school
For quite a while I've felt drawn toward seeking a PhD in order to a) gain more knowledge and b) be able to pursue full time teaching or other job opportunities. This last year I applied to programs in theological ethics, and I got in to a few of them, but I still felt a check in my spirit about the whole thing. As a Quaker, I didn't want to get a degree that was based solely on theory. I want my scholarly work to have practical application, and to flow out of lived experience. Also, religion and theology programs are extremely competitive, based mainly on the theories and systems that you know with head knowledge and can rationally explain. While I find all of this incredibly intriguing and interesting, I also find it absolutely useless if it can't be put into action for the good of the world. I recognized that doing this sort of degree, even if I was studying ecological theology, would be 5 years of intellectualizing and head-work that I would be slogging through with no time for any practical action.
At the last minute, I decided to look into PhD programs in environmental studies and sustainability education, and got accepted into them as well. I felt peace and joy about the program at Antioch University of New England, and decided to go there! It's a PhD in Environmental Studies. Last week I had my first intensive session, where I had the classroom time for two courses, Introduction to Research Design and Ecological Thought. Both classes were excellent, and I enjoyed the creative and practical information and pedagogy employed by each professor.
Added to the fact that I get to do a degree that combines the practical and theoretical, I also have a Quaker advisor! That's something I wouldn't have had in any of the PhD programs I applied to in theological ethics. My advisor will be Steve Chase, Friend from New England Yearly Meeting, who has written several books and articles on Quaker topics, including Letters to a Fellow Seeker: A Short Introduction to the Quaker Way, and a recent chapter in the Friends Association for Higher Education's 2014 book, Quakers Perspectives in Higher Education, entitled "Educating for Beloved Community." I'm excited to work with him on issues pertaining to Quakerism and care for the Earth.
I also have an excellent cohort of about a dozen students, all from different types of backgrounds, including the sciences, social sciences, literature, and various government agencies dealing with environmental issues. It's exciting to look at this issue from so many different angles, with experts from different fields as my colleagues.
In about a month, we'll be moving to New Hampshire! Here we come, New England Yearly Meeting...