Blog Contributor: Meredith DeCock
I always assumed I would return to the academic world to pursue a master’s degree. But I resisted this urge for years as it felt like something I should do, not necessarily something I felt a passion to do. If I was going to do a master’s, I wanted it be for a specific purpose and mean something. That is when I found sustainability science.
I chose Brock, not only because it seemed to be the best sustainability science program in Canada, but I was really interested in a lot of the research being conducted at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC). I reached out to my now supervisor, Dr. Liette Vasseur, as her work on ecosystem-based adaptation and ecosystem governance interested me. She was just starting a three-year long project with a neighbouring community that will help them co-generate adaptation strategies to combat the impacts of climate change. I was sold. I packed up my essentials and drove across the country to start the program in the fall of 2018.
Being in either the thesis or MRP stream, your first semester is largely focused on just trying to figure out what grad school is all about. You are in a new school, and in my case, a new province, while trying to balance the seemingly never-ending work loads of classes and trying to understand your area of research.
The second semester in the thesis stream you have a slightly lighter course load compared to your MRP peers; however, I found second semester busier than the first. I took on an extra course, held a research assistantship position with the ESRC, and took on a few other professional development opportunities that Brock offers such as presenting at the Brock Mapping New Knowledges (MNK) Conference, completing a certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and submitting an article to a journal for peer-review. But to ensure I did not fall behind, I considered my research proposal its own class. I did not let a week go by without working on my research proposal. It is easy to let your research slide to the backburner in the first two terms of the program; however, if you schedule time into your week dedicated to your thesis, you will be successful.
I am thankful that I am working with a supervisor on a specific project as I wanted to complete a master’s knowing that my research project is feeding into something larger. However, I know that is not the case for everyone. There is no right way to go about it, but it is great to know that there are options and that you will feel supported by the ESRC regardless of which route you choose.