I’ll be leaving soon for Munich to complete a summer internship at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. The opportunity will let me combine my interests in ecological resiliency and social sciences. I’ll also have the opportunity to see how an international research think tank operates. The RCC is funded by LMU Munich and the Deutsches Museum and began its operations in 2009. Seeing a think tank which is still in infancy and has already expanded successfully ought to be exciting.
This has given me the chance to reflect on a lot of what we went over during our career day and skills building talks. On the one hand we talked about what skills we already had. In my case, I was able to use both academic knowledge and experience as assets during my interview. A lot of European students seem to have less real work experience than we do in North America, and my prior summer jobs have given me a lot of background in leadership, independence, and drudge work. Sometimes you just need to sit there three hours late and finish the project that is due the next week. Not that this should be new for UBC students.
It’s also given me the opportunity to reflect on where I’m going with this new stepping stone. Over this year I’ve gotten more and more interested in the necessity of useful data and effective human capital. Part of this was due to my ECON 303 course, which discussed incentives of organizations, and FRE 420, where political economy and the inability of organizations and governments to act for the common good was an important theme. It’s beyond doubt that much of what comes out of the social sciences is research for research’s sake. So how to hold social scientists’ feet to the fire? How to produce practical, usable results? How can we incentivize organizations to do good work and incentivize governments to actually use this material? These are the questions I’m currently asking.
All in all I’m very excited about this opportunity. The themes we’ve discussed in GRS and in other courses will doubtless be a thread running throughout the work of the RCC.