Doors are Opening

Jaguar by Quinn Dombrowski. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Jaguar by Quinn Dombrowski. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I have exciting news to share. I mentioned in a previous post that I had applied to graduate programs which blend the environmental and social sciences. I have now heard back from both universities.

To my relief I was accepted to both the University of Michigan’s Behavior, Education, and Communication program and Humboldt State University’s Environment and Community program (E&C). This was a pleasant surprise, especially since I have been told the University of Michigan is highly selective.

While both programs appear excellent, I have decided to go with Humboldt State University (HSU). The main reason for this is their emphasis on social justice. Dr. J. Mark Baker, the Coordinator for the E&C program, includes these lines in his biography:

I have also sought to advance, through both teaching and research, the idea that community well-being and environmental sustainability are interdependent concepts. I am particularly interested in issues of equity, justice, collective action, community formation, and political authority as they bear upon environment-community relationships.

This resonates with me, because for me conservation is not just about the welfare of wildlife. It is about improving prospects for both animals and the people they live with. The recent surge of hatred in the United States, largely (but not solely) inspired by Donald Trump, has also shown me that I cannot focus only on biodiversity. To seek to better the future of wildlife without also standing up for my fellow humans would be the gravest of betrayals.

Going to HSU also means I will be living in an area with mountain lions (Puma concolor), which will open up opportunities for experiential learning. Mountain Lion by USFWS Mountain-Prairie. CC BY 2.0
Going to HSU also means I will be living in an area with mountain lions (Puma concolor), which will open up opportunities for experiential learning. Mountain Lion by USFWS Mountain-Prairie. CC BY 2.0

Politics aside, there is much to do to prepare for my upcoming transition. I must secure housing, find funding, and sort out the logistics of moving across the country. I am also still interested in recruiting a second author for The Jaguar and its Allies. Ideally this would be a cohort of mine who possesses a more solid base in biology and/or ecology than myself. Not only would this allow us to maintain this blog without becoming overwhelmed, but we could each focus on our respective specialties.

I am quite pleased with the way my journey is progressing. In a few months I will take the next steps towards forging a career in conservation psychology.

 

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62 thoughts on “Doors are Opening

  1. This is wonderful news, Josh. I’m thrilled for you. I absolutely agree that the focus should not just be on the animals but – the existence of our own species alongside, living in equal harmony. If only…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Annie! If only… Although I have at least read about instances of people and big cats living on relative harmony alongside one another. I won’t pretend there aren’t any problems, but the conflicts are minimal and the people are more tolerant than normal.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Exactly. In many areas wolves pose a minimal threat to livestock, and almost no threat to people. Sometimes this is reciprocated by tolerance from their human neighbors. But sometimes wolves are still persecuted, possibly for social and political reasons.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Firstly congratulations Josh. Well done on that. You seem very excited. It is really great news. If it means anything we wish you the best of luck for the future.Secondly, people often make the mistake of thinking conservation is saving animals. Its act finding a way to get animals and humans living together sustainably. This is why as our numbers increase it is going to be even more challenging. To the future then !!! Dan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dan! Yes, the more I learn about conservation the more I realize it’s about helping people and animals. Our fates are intertwined, and deep-seated social divisions can do great harm for wildlife. I like the way many of Humboldt State’s faculty make it clear that we have to tackle environmental and social problems together.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think thats the only good thing which can come out of this whole Trump madness… people speaking out for the good things in life. It’s something that you can take for granted when you think its normal to be treated (and treat others) equal…but unfortunately it isn’t that normal at all…Being confronted with someone like trump just makes people realise to speak out for what is right… or so I hope.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I hope so too. For all our technological progress there’s still a lot of anger and hatred in this country that’s never been dealt with. Trump’s just taking advantage of it.

          My sincerest hope is that recent events force my countrymen and I to finally address it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations Josh! Your passion and dedication is a blessing to us all. “To seek to better the future of wildlife without also standing up for my fellow humans would be the gravest of betrayals.” The world desperately needs more people like you. I wish you all the very best. Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brilliant news Josh! Your compassion for both humans and animals is inspiring. I wish you all the best with your studies and everything else:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You can’t see it, but I’m dancing with excitement right now because I’m excited for you and also selfishly excited for myself because I get to live vicariously through you with this, so long as you continue to post about it. I’ve been considering going into something with ecology and environmental science. How exciting that you will be near cougars! This truly is great news, and I agree that it’s important to focus on both human and animal in order to be successful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kristina! I think it’d be great for you to go into something dealing with ecology and environmental science, because there’s a big need for it right now.

      Don’t worry, I’m definitely going to keep blogging! In fact once I start school my posts will probably be more focused on what I’m doing, because it’ll be harder to do all this extra research. So it’ll be even easier to live vicariously through my writing :D

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Josh, you are doing an awesome job merging the two, animals and mankind. Because of you, I view and respect the wild animal life with a level of awareness your blog has provided. Keep up the great work of keeping others like me informed. I respect your work and mission. It is nice hearing doors are open for you to do what you are called to do. Thanks for taking time to visit my blog and sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I recognize the importance of animals having an advocate. After all, we’re all in this together, and it is all a part of the balance of nature. I feel your blog provides a medium to see the connection with more clarity.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, we need animals as much as they need us. From a utilitarian standpoint they help maintain the ecosystems that we depend on for our survival. But on another, perhaps more significant level; they make our lives so much more meaningful.

          I’m also starting to realize that the way we treat other people affects the environment. Issues like social inequality spill over into many domains, impacting non-human species. I’m just starting to understand this, so it’ll be some time before I write about it. But it’s another example of how we’re all in this together.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I agree, we share a similar journey. I understand you feel compelled to do your part so that the purpose of human and non-human species mission is fulfilled. I continue to seek creative ways to raise awareness from a humanistic perspective. Again, I respect and appreciate your work.

            Liked by 1 person

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