PhD Toolkit: When Things Go Wrong

A doctoral program is a test. It will test your patience, your will to succeed, and your self-confidence. It may be the hardest experience in your life. I won’t say your professional life because a doctoral program will take over your life. It will consume parts of your life you never thought about. And many things in this world can go wrong. An unexpected turn of events, an accident, or the one thing you overlooked in your planning process. What tools can help you pass the test? How can you recover when things go wrong? Can you plan to accommodate things that go wrong in your PhD program?
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What No One Tells You About Food Banks in New Orleans

New Orleans is a city of survivors. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 and the city of New Orleans was changed forever. Forever. The city’s built infrastructures (transportation, buildings, hospitals) were destroyed. Another type of infrastructure also was destroyed: the city’s food system. This infrastructure includes a variety of processes:

  • Food production
  • Food processing
  • Food distribution
  • Food retail and marketing
  • Capital (natural, human, social, economic)

How are people in New Orleans surviving in 2018? Although the city was hit by more floods and heavy rains last summer, the built environment is recovering. But the people are still struggling. What is the state of New Orleans’ food system? Did federal disaster recovery funding help the city? Why is the food-based infrastructure slow to recover?

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7 Key Benefits Of Feedback

Let’s face it – most people don’t like feedback. Somehow it feels like a chink in our armor and it’s a reminder that we’re not perfect. BTW, no one fits that mold. And if they do, I’d like to see them leap tall buildings in a single bound. It’s easy to talk about how to give feedback. But it’s a harder talk about how to receive feedback, good or bad.

Our first reaction to feedback can be anger, fear, frustration, tension, resistance, irrational thoughts, and feeling defensive. How can we shift our reaction to feedback?  How can we respond to feedback we don’t want to hear? What are the benefits of feedback?

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Food: So What and Who Cares?

When I first thought about my dissertation, I floundered around for ideas on a research topic. I waffled between different ideas such as water conservation, animal-human relationships, transition town creation, social justice, and sustainability. Qualities of my study had to be:

  1. Something I was passionate about (passion is key because I’d be stuck working on one idea for many years running).
  2. Something relevant to the world (I didn’t want my research to sit on the shelf collecting dust in a dark corner of the library).
  3. Something that contributes to the existing knowledge (Yes, I wanted to add another spoke to the wheel of knowledge).

I discovered that urban food policy had all these qualities. But my real challenge was to answer the questions “So what? Who cares?”

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Student Veterans: Classroom Role Models

One group of students who face unique challenges when they go back to school, are veterans. According to one source, 74% of all undergraduate students are veterans, work full-time, attend school part-time, have dependents, and are a single caregivers. By 2011, more than 924,000 veterans returned to college. These numbers will increase as more veterans return to a challenging job market. How can we help student veterans find academic success?

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Who Are Tomorrow’s Farmers?

Burkina Faso and Thailand. These two countries are far apart on the map. But they share a common goal: to create a dynamic infrastructure around local agriculture. For example, Burkina Faso offers training for poor women to generate income through micro-gardening. These women learn to grow food for their families and sell the surplus in the marketplace. Thailand is developing programs to repopulate rural areas. New farmers are leaving the city to start small agricultural operations.

Both examples support a new generation of farmers, an exciting and dynamic infrastructure. Women in Burkina Faso, West Africa are using gardening to build the local food system in their communities. And young adults in urban areas are going back to the land and starting farms in Thailand. Can these countries expand the network of small holder farms?  How can women farmers contribute to the global food system? Why are young adults leaving urban life behind?

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How To Write Your Dissertation? Make A Plan

For many things in life, you need a plan. You can plan to take a holiday, or go shopping on a whim. When it comes to writing your dissertation, you really need a plan. Actually, if you have several plans that’s even better. You can’t just write your thesis statement or dissertation. Yes, the dissertation can be a nightmare, but it’s nothing more than a very complex writing plan. You’ll have a template to follow and it’s your job to fill in the blanks. It can be a scary feeling to sit there staring at a blank screen waiting for the ideas to flow. You are the only one who can do it – your dissertation won’t write itself. But is a writing plan enough? What other kind of plans do you need?

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