The first week of classes was rather tame. The research meetings will make all the difference, and they don’t start until next week. I was grateful to be able to work on my dissertation proposal for multiple hours at a time this week. Those blocks of time will disappear once the meetings begin and so I will have to get creative about when and where I work. I wish this final graduate year were just about writing the dissertation instead of having to worry about classes and meetings. A girl can dream.
I did do a lot of scheduling this week. While I will likely spend every free moment writing my dissertation, there are a few upcoming events for which I have specifically set aside time. One of those events is the visit of Dr. Vandana Shiva. Dr. Shiva is being honored with a local social justice award for her work within the environmental movement, particularly within the realm of biodiversity conservation and farmers’ rights. Originally trained as a physicist (Ph.D. 1979), she took a few years off to explore scientific policy issues, and eventually found herself immersed in activist struggles surrounding biotechnology and human rights. The link above describes her life much better than I ever could, but I do want to mention one of the aspects that makes Dr. Shiva so inspirational to me: her ability to combine intellect with activism. Intellectuals (of the professorial persuasion) are often seen as theorists trapped inside the ivory tower, while activists are often seen as extreme, single-minded fools with unyielding viewpoints. While Dr. Shiva did abandon traditional academia, she did not trade in her intellect for mere passion. Instead, she used everything she learned in academia to fuel her new work. With this philosophy in mind, both in content and in spirit, Dr. Vandana Shiva represents an entire movement I wholeheartedly support.