Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Grief and science

Grief. It's a mouthful. It kind of hangs in the air when spoken, it can even be heavy on the page and the screen. Some people might view it as a downer of topic for this time of year, others might be relieved by its expression during these long nights. I remember the first time a person I deeply respect told me with great compassion that she saw me struggling with grief  - it was many years ago and I actually found it deeply confusing. And yet, now, it is so clear that was what exactly what that feeling was. I'd experienced it acutely a couple of times with the loss of a friend, a teacher, a grandparent. The idea that grief could also be chronic was new to me.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Reinvisioning training - "clinical" practice in the natural sciences

I have written a bit about non-academic careers in the natural sciences from the perspective of what comes after policy fellowship programs and legitimizing the non-academic career path. In that second post I briefly touched on the idea of "clinical" training models and their applicability in the natural sciences. In fields like law and medicine, after (or while) time spent learning in the classroom or the lab, students are given the opportunity for "real world" learning via clinical practice. In law school that might involve taking on real cases, and in medical school, working with patients.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The only way is together

I have had a several experiences lately that have led to a more embodied sense of both the futile and counter-productive nature of “getting” anybody to do anything, at least on a long-term basis and in a way that doesn't ultimately feel terrible. As a simple example, say I am on a walk in the woods with a friend. I might want to go one way, while she might want to go another. I could try to persuade her to go where I want to go, and I may have a lot of well-informed reasons about why "my way" is the best way. But, if my goal is to truly be with my friend, to be connected and in relationship, I would be best served by working with her to figure out what works for both of us, rendering "my way" pretty pointless. Sure - there's a possibility that together we might go over a cliff, but as much as I'd like to think it's not the case, I could just as easily end up over the cliff going my own way.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Relatedness in action in science practice

Although these days I spend a lot of time writing in a theoretical way about relationship-centered approaches to science and engagement (in short, explicitly recognizing the importance of relationships between people in science), I am, first and foremost, a practitioner and most interested in just doing good work every day. To that end, I am trying to spend time recognizing work that I think of as "relatedness in action" -- even though the people doing it might not primarily see it that way -- both to make the topic less abstract and to help myself continue to work pragmatically.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Welcoming resistance

Recently, I was lucky enough to be a part of a circle at a small professional retreat focused on process and relationship-building where a group of incredible people with really diverse experiences, many dedicated to social justice and peace-building efforts, shared recent challenges in their work. After a long and winding discussion, the facilitators were able to masterfully weave together a strong thread that had emerged from the conversation. In sum, that thread was that the very places where we face the strongest resistance can often be the exact places that our work is most needed, and hardest. And, that maybe instead of viewing resistance as failure, we could see it as a sign that there really is something to be done there, simply based on the fact that the push-back exists.