Dr. Diane Dupont is the Scientific Director of the Water Economics, Policy, and Governance Network, located at Brock University, Niagara Region, Canada.
She is a Professor of Economics and member of Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. She has received a Chancellor’s Chair in Research Excellence and the Distinguished Research and Creative Activity Award. Her research examines ways to encourage more efficient and sustainable use of water resources. She has supervised students in both the Master of Business Economics and Master of Sustainability programs.
She is an Associate Editor for Water Resources & Economics and has been a board member for the Canadian Water Network and the North American Association of Fisheries Economists. She was Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research for the Faculty of Social Sciences before being made Interim Dean of Graduate Studies.
An interview with the Dean
The ultimate experience for a graduate student should involve opportunities to work independently but learn to work with others; to pursue a topic intensively but learn to manage time; and to get involved in activities outside their curriculum while thinking forward to the next stage in their careers. For research students, in particular, I think graduate students deserve an excellent supervisory committee. The committee should provide a nurturing environment where students are trusted to make their own decisions and learn from them. Students also need to learn how to work in a community of researchers and find a network of trusted friends. Research is a community-minded process, and I still rely on the friends I made in graduate school in my research today. I also hope that students immerse themselves in the extra-curricular activities that are available to them. As a researcher, it is very easy to become very single-minded about your work. I wish I had explored more outside interests as a student and I also wish that some of the services available to students now had been in place for me as a graduate student.
When I started graduate school, I thought I was a good writer and I was very quickly disabused of that notion! I learned how to write for an academic audience. When you are trying to communicate your research, you really need to think about who is reading your work.
I think it is also important to remember that, as a graduate student, you will likely experience failure at some point of your education, and it’s OK. What is important is how you learn from that experience and move past it towards your larger goal.
Resilience. Resilience and the willingness to put in the work that is necessary and the determination to succeed. Grad students also need to be able to question the status quo. Take the lessons you learn and move beyond them. Be forever curious.
As an undergraduate student, you are a consumer of knowledge, but as a graduate student you become a producer of knowledge, and I think that switch can be challenging for some. I encourage all graduate students to seek out the resources available to them from an early stage of their career, so they can support themselves when they need to.
An informed population is the best ingredient for the sustainability of society. I hope our graduate students leave Brock with an awareness of the natural world but also the social aspects of our society and I hope they learn empathy towards other people. Ultimately, I hope they use the skills they develop as graduate students to better society.