What's an Acceptable Thesis Question?
What does strategic thinking toward sustainability look like for individuals? What would / could be the results of someone taking a more strategic approach to sustainability? How can the strategic planning model we have been applying for businesses be adapted to be more meaningful and usable for individuals who are asking themselves "but what can I do?"?
Choosing a thesis topic. Something I have certainly never done before. Any advice? I should note that this is not a "real" thesis... it's more like a big project in that we have about a week to decide a topic, and then two months after that to do research, and one more month to get everything analyzed, draw the conclusions, and wrap it up. And based on that, I will have a masters degree. Yipee! I'm gonna be a smarty person from now on!
Anyway, my group and I (oh yeah, it is a group thesis of me and two other students) have been kicking around a few questions for the past few days, trying to decide if they are valid topics, and if there is a valid methodology to base a thesis on.
We know what we want our topic to be about, but, since none of us has done this before, and we have no academic advisor (other than very generous classmates who have already written a thesis in the past), we have been struggling to turn that topic into something that may be accepted as a thesis topic.
What I want to do:
1. One of the reasons I came to this program in the first place is because, in the past few years, I seem to have been undergoing some changes in my thinking and realizations about how my lifestyle (just as an average bastish) was negatively effecting just about everyone and everything else in the world. I had been reading and exploring on my own ways in which I can reduce those negative effects, and coming here to study "sustainability" was more of a personal journey... looking to see what the whole thing is about.
The program itself is based more on business, government, and other larger organizations. A large portion of it has centered around a strategic planning methodology which these organizations could use. It struck me as odd, however, that while we are spending our time learning about how others can become "sustainable", few in our class (including me), not one of the instructors, not one of the lecturers, no one, appear to me to be really moving strategically toward sustainability in our own lifestyles. In fact, I have actually become worse since coming here.
If we , the preachers, can not even take a critical look at our own lives, what hope is there that others would... and what right do we have to ask them to anyway? What keeps us from practicing what we preach?
2. I constantly hear people who realize what we are doing to our very life-support system and are killing themselves over the question... "But what can I do?" All too often, the sustainability advocates give them a list of 10 things to save the environment, and shove them on their way wondering "Why doesn't it make a difference?"
As I help myself get my own life in check, why not help others who want to be helped?
So, what I want to do is to take the strategic plan we have been taught for businesses, and see how that applies to us, the messengers, as well as to the "regular" folk. What needs to be changed to make it more relevant to the individual? What would it's implementation look like? What would the outcome be like? Would it really help anybody to make change in their lifestyle? If so, would that change be deeper than the cosmetic "ten steps to help the environment"? Theoretically, if one was truly thinking strategically, and taking into account the full extent of their actions in every action of their life, it could lead to massive changes. Would it though?
What is an "academic" way to phrase that? As for methodology, is it acceptable to simply find as many people as we can handle in two months (including ourselves, parents, classmates, instructors, and local folk, etc...) and working through the process together, taking a deep, critical look at our lives, identifying what should and can change, and finally, what does change?
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The photos above are from my first semi-professional photo shoot. Not semi-professional in that there was any payment, but rather in that it was the first time (other than my sister's wedding) where anyone had ever made a special request that I take their photo. It's especially flattering because the mother is a professional photographer, and she asked me to take their family portrait. The whole "who cuts the barber's hair?" thing... Anyway, these photos were taken with my camera, but the official portraits were taken with her film camera. I've never used a film camera, so I am just hoping I didn't screw them up too badly (apparently, it costs over $30 to develop a roll here!)
I hope they don't mind having their picture up here on the top page...