As I bombard my professors’ e-mail accounts with constant approval-seeking that my goals during the two years at the Voinovich School makes any sense, I realize that my second year in the program will be wildly different from my first. While the first year was comprised entirely of MPA courses and practicum experience, the second year will nearly completely feature neither.
As mentioned in my previous post, I will be studying abroad in Scotland this summer for one month, taking GEOG 5560: City and the Environment and HIST 593: Edinburgh since 1750. In addition, I will be interning with the Cockburn Association, an urban planning civic society based in Edinburgh. The plan is to earn two classes worth of credit toward my Environmental Sustainability Graduate Certificate during this time. The first class mentioned above and the internship will fulfill those roles, while the history class will serve to educate students in the program about the city in which we will be living during the duration of the program.
Regarding the Fall, it’ll be interesting enough adjusting to the switch to semesters from quarters. On top of that, I’ll be taking four classes, instead of the usual two-class-one-internship approach through which I’ve been operating these past two quarters. I’ll most likely be volunteering with Rural Action in addition to the class load as well. The biggest challenge of it all, however, will be that each class will be outside of the MPA curriculum and within the various departments of environmental studies, economics, journalism, and political science. None of my classmates I’ve gotten to know over the year will be in any of my classes and the content will be foreign to me. The environmental studies and economics classes will count toward my graduate certificate while the journalism class, Graphics and Audiences, is something I’m taking because I think it could complement my communications background and give me some insight into marketing (in case I decide to go that route). I’m enrolled in the political science class, Environmental Politics/Policy because that’s the sort of policy I’m interested in (along with food policy, which I believe goes hand in hand with it).
Although it seems like I’m disregarding my MPA degree during my second year in the program, I’m actually helping to fulfill it with required elective courses…and then some. By the time Spring semester rolls around, I’ll only have one required MPA class and one required certificate course to take, freeing up some wiggle room for more exploration. Learning should not be held down by parameters established to earn a degree, but instead should evolve beyond such parameters to earn an education. This is what I’ve been excited to earn all throughout the program. And I’m thankful that the Voinovich School offers such an opportunity.