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Who are environmental studies students? Looking beyond the books

Although the vast majority of my posts have focused on the academic side of an environmental studies student’s life, I want to make sure that I am not painting a one dimensional portrait. While my studies are a large part of my life, there are a number of other factors which equally inform my values, actions, and decisions.

Some are more obvious than others. As an example, food is very important to me. It makes sense, given that my research focuses on urban food policy and community gardens. I love to cook, using fresh, quality ingredients, and knowing that my food was sourced in a manner that is consistent with my values. This can be tight on a student budget, but I do the best I can.

A less directly related interest might be that I also practice ashtanga yoga every morning, rising before the sunrise in order to get in my practice before school and work. I find that doing yoga is not only good for my physical health, but mental health, too, building strength and flexibility while relieving stress and tension. Doing yoga has also introduced me to a community of yoga practitioners around the world with whom I can share myself, and who have helped me learn about anatomy, nutrition, and even things like politics and business management.

The same is true for many of my other friends in environment studies. There is Brian, an engineer who spent five years backpacking around the world, without stopping, before beginning his degree; Sarah, a former Peace Corps volunteer and keen ukulele player; and Maryam, who I mentioned last week, is a book fiend, favoring Russian literature among others.

What is all this to say?

Simply, that we all have diverse interests and passions beyond what one may think of environment studies. It is through our other interests that we can cultivate innovative ideas, from other disciplines and fields, about how to transition to a more sustainable world, as well as encourage the common values that do exist between us—things like big picture thinking, a curiosity about the world, and compassion for others. Not only that, but by continuing to show a wider view of who environmentalists are and what they do, we can help to invite more people into thinking about how to reduce our impact on the earth.

So for other environmental studies students focused on the academic areas of their life, I would also invite them to explore their other interests and passions. They may be just as important!

Darlene Seto is pursuing her master’s degree at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. A keen student of environment policy and governance, her current graduate work revolves around diversity and engagement in alternative food systems.

Posted on: April 3, 2012, 6:00 am Category: The Life of an Environmental Studies Student Tagged with: , , ,

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