Practicing Your Craft

One of my takeaways from graduate school was that we learned to be scholar-practitioners. Dr. Patti and I continue to transition into our new roles: to conduct research and write as scholars. But the practitioner part is not an easy transition. This part requires an active, conscious effort to apply new knowledge to practice your craft.

What’s in a craft?

Another takeaway for me was that we should not waste our talent and energy.  During my program, I had weekly calls with my advisor. We talked a lot about how my research ideas were evolving.  For instance, I wanted to write something about sustainability, a vague word that has lots of different meanings.

It was a process of reading and asking questions to figure out what I really wanted to know about sustainability. My advisor knew that I had a keen interest – it was a matter of finding that pinpoint focus.

But she always reminded me of one thing: Practice your craft. She meant that it was my obligation to go out and share my research with the world. Talk about it. Massage it. Revise it. Take my passion and practice my craft.

Not always perfect

So what does that mean? In many cases, practice does not make perfect. When you practice your craft, you find different ways to talk about your research. For example, think about your audience and what you want them to learn.

The way that you talk to a general audience is different from talking to academics and colleagues. Less jargon, good visual aids, and an interesting story can engage any audience. Perfection is not a goal – it’s about sharing ideas.

In the real world

Here’s how Dr. Patti and I practice our craft.  She has partnered with other colleagues interested in her dissertation called Diffusion of Electronic Health Records in Rural Primary Care Clinics.

She revised her topic for presentations at a conference for the American Health Information Medical Association and the Total Quality Report conference. Dr. Patti was recently invited to work with a researcher to write an article for the TQR academic journal.

My dissertation was called Food Policy: Urban Farming as a Supplemental Food Source. Last year, I expanded my research to explore the global food system. I developed a series of webinars on the global food system for current and potential international students at Walden University.

Other activities included a Food Day celebration at my local library.  This month, I was a panelist for the Kraft Open Classroom Series at Northeastern University.

The series addressed The Food System: Sustainability, Health and Equity and my topic was the Possibilities and Limits of Urban Agriculture. I also review journal articles and academic books on food studies, food system design, urban agriculture, food policy and sustainability.

As you can see, Dr. Patti and I try to keep our research active in the real world.  And we collaborate weekly to write this blog.

Curiosity is a good thing

I’ve discovered that the practice part of being a scholar-practitioner is evolving. As you create new ideas and questions about your research, you are engaged in learning. Sometimes I think people get bored because they’re not curious.

Learning is both active and passive – it’s all about asking questions and thinking about ideas differently. But when you practice your craft, whatever it is, you continue to learn and be engaged.

Dr. Patti and I believe that curiosity keeps us active in practicing our craft.


Dr. Bessie

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.
~~~Marie Curie~~~

Author: Dr. Bessie DiDomenica

Food Policy Researcher • Resilient Agriculture Advocate • Public Speaker • Public Policy Wonk • Writer • Teacher • Social Entrepreneur • Associate Editor

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