Where Will this IDS Capstone Take Me?

This semester is the semester to end all semesters (literally). I’m done in December, sadly punctuating the last 18 years of my formal education. It’s melancholic; on one side, I’m excited to get out into the world and apply what I’ve been learning, but on the other, I love formal education. I’ll certainly miss being in the classroom.

Because it’s my last semester, I need to make it count more than ever. That’s why, for my IDS Capstone, I want to commit to both a Research Article and a Project that are meaningful and induce growth.

For my Research Article, I’ve been bouncing around a lot of ideas that are reflective of the current jobs that I’ve been applying to. I figure researching and writing about something that I’ll be professionally engaged in, in less than 3 months, might give me a head start in the field. Here’s what I have so far:

  1. How effective is Wilderness Therapy?
  2. Sustainable Living: Is it just for the Affluent and Able?
  3. How can juveniles benefit from outdoor exposure?
  4. Is horticulture therapy/eco-therapy the best thing for preventing recidivism in prisons?
  5. Is the term ‘Sustainability’ still cutting it? Are we moving on to something less vague and more accessible?

For the first question, How effective is Wilderness Therapy?, that would combine the disciplines of Experiential Education, Adventure Education, Psychology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice. I think some of the biggest challenges in researching this will not only stem from the fact that I don’t have expertise in half of the aforementioned disciplines, but also from the fact that the field of Wilderness Therapy is still so underdeveloped. It’s a new idea, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to find that is accurate about it’s efficacy.

The second topic of Sustainable Living: Is it just for the Affluent and Able?, would definitely be a lot easier to research. It’s a hot topic, and there’s been tons of both scholarly and more informal articles written about the concept’s efficacy and attainability. My largest obstacle in researching this idea, however, might be the controversy behind it, and whether or not I’m even in a position to be making such claims. In terms of interdisciplinarity, this would combine the disciplines of Environmental Science, Sociology, Economics, and maybe even Environmental Education.

 The third idea about whether Juveniles can benefit from outdoor exposure almost seems like a gimmie. Of course they can. (To me at least). My downfall here might be in the overwhelming amount of resources, and being able to choose which ones are the most legitimate. I’d be researching prose from the disciplines of Adolescent Psychology, Environmental Education and Sociology.

The penultimate idea is: Is horticulture therapy/eco-therapy the best thing for preventing recidivism in prisons? This one, like the other ones revolving around Wilderness Therapy, would be challenging because I have limited experience researching the disciplines involved: Criminal Justice, Law, Environmental Education, and Sociology. However, it seems really neat and might involve a bit of interviewing and questioning from professionals in the field, which could prove interesting.

Lastly, Is the term ‘Sustainability’ still cutting it? Are we moving on to something less vague and more accessible?, could be really thought provoking as well. It’s a bit more abstract and academic, which totally could be useful later on when writing a thesis, but I think that could definitely be my biggest challenge. I don’t know that I’m deep enough into that world of academia to answer the question I’m posing here. Like the others, I’d be researching within the fields of Environmental Science, Economics, and Sociology.

 Overall, it seems like the two main ideas that I’ve divided into focused questions revolve around: Sustainability and Wilderness Therapy. These are two branches of my degree that I’ve really clung to the most, and are certainly progressive and promising fields.

Research Project

At this point, I’ve pretty much solidified that I’m going to document my tipi living as my final project. However, I’ll indulge, and list a few more that could’ve been/could still be interesting.

  1. Tipi Life
  2. Work with CADY
  3. Work with CALE
  4. Volunteer work with the Climate Reality Project – developing a grassroots campaign
  5. Volunteering at Elementary Schools to give talks about Environmental Issues

Let’s Dive in.

For the first idea of the Tipi, my biggest issue is that it’s too self-indulgent. The idea is to promote sustainable living, so I need to find a way to advertise it somehow to the public as a worthwhile (or near worthwhile) idea.

Working with CADY is new to me this semester, and I’m not exactly sure how much involvement I’m going to have. However, being on a restorative justice panel, talking about how to mentor youth first offenders, could be really meaningful. Another issue is that restorative justice and criminal justice are not really up my alley in terms of what I’ve already studied… It’s more of a developing interest and has no relation to environmental studies or education.

Working for/with CALE has already proven really worthwhile and meaningful. Through CALE, I’d be facilitating outdoor, goal-oriented and community building experiences for local students around Plymouth. One of the biggest problems is that it’s a paid position, however I think I could waive this and just do it for volunteering. Another issue is that it’s more focused on inter and intrapersonal skills, versus environmental education.

My volunteer work with the Climate Reality Project is also super worthwhile. It’s an NGO dedicated to spreading clean and renewable energy to campuses across the nation, and this semester, we’re working on petitioning for a new food service contract. It’s a practical application of my skills, and one of the most relatable project ideas in terms of what I’ve already studied. The downfall would be that I’ve already worked here before, and that I’m not sure what kind of time commitment I could give. Also, it’s collaborative and not individual.

Lastly, I could volunteer to give talks about environmental issues to elementary or middle schools nearby. This is probably the most obvious example of Environmental Education, but it’s not super engaging. I’d rather be bringing kids outside, but logistically speaking, that would be pretty challenging to coordinate.

I am excited to keep building on these ideas, and mainly the idea of the tipi, and see where they all can take me!

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6 thoughts on “Where Will this IDS Capstone Take Me?

  1. I like all of the RA topics, though I wonder if the “Is Sustainability cutting it” topic is more of a blog post than a research article? Could be more of a argument paper than a research project? I think you could make it work, and it’s an awesome topic, but I might proceed with caution on that one because it could get tricky.

    As for the AP’s, obviously you have so many possibilities, and they are all engaged and engaging in ways that I know will enrich your college experience. But YOU ARE LIVING IN A TIPI! I definitely think you should worry less about the self-indulgent piece and think more about how you can share the experience with different demographics to raise the issues and conversations that you think your communities need to be having… so I lean towards tipi, or at least urge you not to dismiss it too quickly! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so intrigued by the research topic, Sustainable Living: Is it just for the Affluent and Able? I’ve often wondered about this and I think the exploration of this topic would show some interesting results.

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  3. This is an awesome Idea! It is something that inevitably needs to be researched as our world is ever changing and I am glad that you are passionate about something of this manner.

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  4. Hi Kate, I heard your Tipi story on NHPR today. It did my heart good. As long as there are people with your convictions out there; I am hopeful for the future of our planet.
    If you dig a trench around your Tipi, it might help with your flooding issues. Water is going to run off the tipi and can get underneath….that might be part of the reason why you got flooded out. If you dig a small trench for the runoff to flow into, less will get underneath. As you know, it can get quiet out there sometimes…..nothing wrong with inviting guests over once in a while….
    Take care Kate and good luck with you project!

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