Everything I need to know, I learned from the 2012 Policy Sciences Institute

Shout out (again!) to Andrew Lee for telling me about this opportunity. Here’s my letter thanking the Institute for an enjoyable and engaging conference. And, hey, Saskatoon!

I would like to thank the Policy Sciences Institute for funding my travel to the Annual Meeting in Saskatoon. I first learned about the Institute through an email from a colleague who had participated in a fellowship program in Sitka, Alaska – showing how small and how large the world really is, and how Policy Sciences may in fact make the world go ’round!

Before I received the notice of the meeting, I had never heard the phrase “policy sciences,” although the approach integrative, comprehensive procedures for understanding and solving planets from the local to planetary level, with particular attention to helping people and fostering human dignity, resonates with my approach to the ongoing interdisciplinary project of Canadian Studies. I am currently collaborating on a research project about [TOP SECRET STUFF], and I believe that the lessons I learned at the Annual Meeting will prove fruitful as this project proceeds.

It was disappointing to hear about [another student’s] difficulties with an interdisciplinary team, but hers was not an unfamiliar concern. On the one hand, it was disheartening to hear about a social scientist having difficulties making inroads into so-called “hard” science projects, but it was reassuring to hear that the effort is being made and that pragmatism can prevail in the short-term to the benefit of long-term ideals. The advice from the Thursday panel (“Finish your PhD!”) resonated with me so much that I retreated to my hotel to work, inspired by the encouragement from the panelists and respondents.

I was very interested in Ken Coates and Ian McKay’s discussion of the future of post-secondary education in Canada, and I was equally interested in the collaboration between the Saskatoon and Regina campuses, as the Canadian Studies program offers a joint PhD between Trent University and Carleton University. Theirs is a template to model as video conferencing technology improves.

The Institute dinner was excellent – the venue was beautiful, the menu was uniquely delicious, and I particularly enjoyed talking with Susan Clark and other graduate students in attendance. I look forward to fruitful connections with policy scientists in the future, especially a water researcher in North Carolina and a researcher in British Columbia, as our areas of interest seemed to have the strongest overlap. The Annual Meeting was a valuable networking experience for young scholars in diverse fields who may not have had occasion to meet otherwise.

Costa Rica and Canada, pragmatism and partnerships, environmental regulations and equity sharing, Trinidad and Tobago, academia and activism, corporations and collaborations, sustainability and sweatshops are just a few of the topics covered in the Annual Meeting. Such a wide range of topics covered by a small, but diverse, group of attendees allowed for wonderful dialogues during the presentations and breaks. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from my first Policy Sciences Institute meeting, but I was more than impressed with the experience, and I look forward to being involved with the Institute throughout my career. Thank you again for this opportunity.

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