Blog Contributor: Sanjida Amin
I still remember the sense of gratification I felt when I accepted the offer letter from Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS). I was looking forward to learning and enhancing my knowledge of sustainability while studying with a bunch of my peers from around the world. As an international student, I was nervous about moving across the globe and attempting to fit into the classroom of sustainability which is one of the most diverse classrooms in the entire world. However, I had no time to worry once my experience at SSAS started. I was able to find my groove and build my confidence with the help of my awesome supervisor, encouraging peer group, amazing faculty members and the supportive administration. It’s hard to imagine that I joined the Sustainability Science and Society (SSAS) programme only a few months ago and now I am almost done with my first year. I must say that time surely flies! Since taking that very first class, I have learned a lot about sustainability, encountered with some amazing individuals, made some life-long memories, achieved valuable work experience, and successfully submitted my thesis proposal. Throughout this blog, I will be sharing my experiences which I have gathered through the completion of my first year of the program here at Brock.
First and second term:
I am in the thesis scheme and I had to take four courses in total throughout the academic year. The design of the SSAS masters course are truly appreciated since all those courses cover a variety of topics including basic sustainability concepts to research methodology. SSAS 5P01: Foundations of Sustainability Science and Society was one of my favourite classes which introduced the core ideas of sustainability science and society. I also really enjoyed SSAS 5P02: Methods for Environmental Inquiry since it provided me with opportunity to learn about the methods of research and explore my research methodology ideas, particularly in the context of sustainability science. SSAS 5P04: Transdisciplinary Seminar course was very helpful for me because every seminar discussion was full of relevant knowledge, information and practical experiences which illustrated the transition period along with the challenges and opportunities to become a sustainability graduate throughout the whole journey. I had another interesting course namely SSAS: 5P80 Directed Study which was taken under the direct supervision of my supervisor, specifically to explore the previous literature and to accumulate the knowledge in the field of my research areas. All of these courses provided me with a deeper understanding of the diversified dimensions of sustainability science and really highlighted the programme’s goal to be transdisciplinary.
My thesis and research proposal presentation:
Understanding my research interests and working on my thesis proposal took up a significant portion of my first year in the graduate program. My research is on “Predicting Consumers’ Sustainable Food Consumption Behaviour”. This proposal presentation session was the most interesting component of my SSAS masters journey. We the students from SSAS, 2022 cohort shared our preliminary research (Thesis/MRP) proposals and research ideas with the audience in the area of sustainability. I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for this proposal presenting session, which was both exciting and nerve-wracking. Finally, after getting valuable feedback and great compliments from my peers, supervisors and faculty members, I felt relaxed. It was extremely impressive to see how faculty members, supervisors, former students, and ESRC staff members attended and took an interest in each issue that was discussed. I am grateful to my supervisor Dr. Todd Green to be extremely supportive, to motivate me to present my research proposal in a room full of scholars and to guide me to the right direction throughout my journey. Throughout my first year, I have come to realize how much I enjoy doing research. I am looking forward to finishing my thesis with some outstanding findings. I can’t wait to take on the challenge of research, even though it offers its unique set of challenges and I still have a lot to learn.
Research Assistantship position:
I have worked as a Research Assistant for The Brock University Project Charter in addition to taking classes and doing my thesis for this year. I have got an excellent team in this project to work with whom I developed social media contents, wrote blog posts, hosted multiple events, submitted data for Times Higher Impact Ranking, and worked on several initiatives to advance sustainability and awareness around the campus. Moreover, I worked on promoting, measuring and tracking the social media platforms for the Sustainability at Brock initiative as a part of this. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Amanda Smits, Madison Lepp, Alexandra Cotrufo and Kassie Burns for their immense support and kindness while working for the project.
People and Relationships:
Last but not least, the relationships I have made with my cohorts, faculty members, my supervisor and administrative staffs here at the SSAS have been the most favourite part of this academic year. I have gathered a bunch of wonderful memories while studying, working, discussing and enjoying time with these amazing people of the SSAS program at Brock. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the loveliest people who are all passionately committed to advancing sustainability and making a positive difference for the environment. Each and every individual I have met through this programme has taught me something new, motivated me through their kind words and supported me in every single way. Coming abroad for study, moving away from home country for the first time, adjusting to new weather, copying with new academic, cultural and social challenges, and getting used to the unknown surroundings was not an easy journey for me initially. However, with the help and support of this people mentioned above, I made it to increase confidence and courage beyond my imagination. Wherever I will be, I believe that the strong bonding I have established with this group will stay with me for the rest of my life. I would love to cherish all these memories forever!