Friday, February 11, 2011

Journal 13 - Geography and Development

I have a five page paper to write for Monday morning, but I have a thought I've got to get into a journal before I can concentrate on anything else. The thought has to do with the link I'm finding between development and geography.

When people ask me why I decided to study Geography, the answer is simple: there is something satisfying about getting an education that has the world as it's topic. I enjoy understanding and seeing the world through a "geographic lens" - or a lens that involves the culture, traditions, perceptions of humans and the physio-graphic elements that they experience where they live. The other question I often receive is: what are you going to do with that? This question can be answered directly, "I've been considering these options" or in a way that addresses the underlying question they've posed--"is that useful somehow?" I've struggled with why I chose Geography a couple times in my life, but I've stuck with what fascinates me and note for myself the silent influence my major has had on my perception of people and the world.

I was prepared to graduate this last semester, but ran into the BYU field study program and got excited about the opportunity it provided me to apply what I'd learned as a Geography student. I was confused when each research geographic topic I considered didn't really strike me as something I'd be able to do with the limitations I'd have (90 days in a small rural community) in the field. But I realized this last week that what I finally settled on--studying the resources a local development effort has available or is lacking--fits within the limitations I'd have as a field study researcher and has everything to do with what fascinates me about Geography, namely the challenges and benefits people and communities face in the place they live.

To further cement my mounting excitement for my project, the theory Joan Dixon advised I do my research on has EVERYTHING to do with Geography. Community Capital Framework seeks to understand the sustainability of a community's development based on several different "capital" assets.

Basically with this theory lists the attributes of a place (geography), evaluates the resources that place provides to a community or organization, and further considers how each missing or weak attribute can be improved and strengthened by specific behavior or action in the community or organization policies.

I'm so glad I stuck with what I felt I should study, even if it wasn't within the geographic discipline. I'm so glad that what I've chosen to study has come full circle back to a theory involving basic geographic concepts. I feel infinitely more qualified for the research I'm doing knowing that Geography is back in the mix!

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