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Charting a Critical Physical Geography Path in Graduate School: Sites of Student Agency

Abstract

This chapter explores strategies for engaging in Critical Physical Geography (CPG) while in graduate school despite known challenges and institutional barriers. We focus on key milestones in the PhD process: from selecting a program and advisor to analyzing and integrating data to writing the dissertation. Each milestone brings unique challenges, necessitating tailored strategies. However, we suggest that two factors are important throughout: first, a long-term view that sees graduate school as the start rather than the end of an engagement with CPG, and second, supportive peer networks which create intellectual and political space for this type of research as early career scholars.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The milestones we identify are not distinct moments in time, and each may also differ in specifics (and/or order of completion) across different institutions, degree programs, and individuals.

  2. 2.

    Our workshop had graduate students with different pre-existing skill sets and forms of expertise and drawing from diverse departments and programs, including Urban Studies and Planning, Geography, Environmental Studies, Horticultural Science, and interdisciplinary programs in Environment and Society.

  3. 3.

    For example, despite tremendous growth in agroecological science and food and agricultural social movements over the past several decades, research funded by the USDA continues to overwhelmingly fund traditional agronomic research organized around a productivist ideal (DeLonge et al. 2016).

  4. 4.

    More-than-human geography is an approach that decenters human agency by foregrounding the dynamic influence of nonhumans; it challenges the divide between social and natural, instead seeing the world as emergent and co-produced through webs of relation (Whatmore 2002; Braun 2008; Panelli 2010; Robbins and Marks 2010; Tsing 2014).

  5. 5.

    These are a few potential conferences that other CPG scholars are especially likely to attend and include annual meetings of the American Association of Geographers (AAGs), Dimensions of Political Ecology (DOPE), Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S), and the American Geophysical Union (AGU). CPG scholars participate in a broad array of meetings and conferences; these four have been useful to us in building research connections. 

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Kelley, L.C. et al. (2018). Charting a Critical Physical Geography Path in Graduate School: Sites of Student Agency. In: Lave, R., Biermann, C., Lane, S. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Physical Geography. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-71461-5_25

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-71461-5_25

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