“Tracks”: a verb for theory

This week in class was dedicated to workshopping…Tuesday we checked in on our framework diagrams, Thursday our framework writing. Jim suggested we work to incorporate three possible functions of environmental theory we have learned in class into our writing. Those are:

  1. Theory as “reasonably systematic reflection on our guiding assumptions” (Eagleton 2004, 2)
  2. Theory as a vehicle (vs. collapsed into perspective-taking)
  3. Theory as a woven framework

It’s not going to be easy to weave these into my framework, but I can see how they will be helpful. I want to reflect a bit more on how I foresee them shaping my writing in vague description (sorry, reader), and save some of the digging into detail for my written draft.

  1. Reflection on guiding assumptions…this is something I’ve now done to an extent I’m very happy with in the introduction/methodology section of my SOAN thesis. I will note that my ENVS thesis/capstone draws/builds on the work I did in SOAN; more time arriving at the topic will hopefully contribute to the validity and strength of my work. And yet, I’m coming in with fresh assumptions, because the projects are quite different in their scope/focus. So, I have a lot of new assumptions to uncover. A final thought: I’m inspired to dig more into this with thought as I write my framework, rather than putting off the work to a post-research/writing afterthought. I believe that would make my outcome weaker, for it could allow me to take a distant objectivity and maintain my assumptions while carrying out research, versus admitting to some of the important limitations I have which could grow (personally and intellectually) so that my outcome/results are shaped by the very meaning/truth-making that occurred in research process…so that it is something of…
  2. Theory as a vehicle, which means that my selection and use of environmental theory is genuinely compelling/intriguing to the reader. This statement is just a funny way of saying arguments that carry people, and carry people to fresh places in thought…not old tropes of environmentalism-turned-scholarship.
  3. And so theory as woven framework just has to do with owning that there are multiple ways of representing reality. Because ‘environment’ is so garbled (if you don’t take it to mean the static outsides for hiking through, saving, or worrying about in some other way…but instead as a concept some use to refer their care for complex and somewhat untenable interdependent relations) theory as woven framework means the possibility of connecting with lots of different people who care about this stuff but who speak lots of different languages…whether disciplinary or out of the walls of the academy.

I suppose I’m just trying to make sense of these ideas. I’ll try to include the details I come up with in actual writing—to me those would be far more interesting to share—next week.

Photo: Climbing Volcán Pichincha (elevation 15,696 feet). Quito, Ecuador. 2014.

2 Replies to ““Tracks”: a verb for theory”

  1. Georgia, this was great insight to how I myself can think about writing my framework. Since I wasn’t in class on Thursday, I now have a better understanding on what those three points mean for how I need to weave and explain my theories.

    Thank You So Much!

  2. As always,
    I enjoy following your thought narratives. Like Jack, your reflections provided valuable insight for me in how I am tacking my own framework writing. I especially like how you describe theory as a vehicle, as that was tentatively how I approached it myself. I appreciate your words, and wish you well with thoughtful framework weaving!

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