For admitted students in 2018

Hello to you all! I’ve received a few messages from people who are a bit lost, and here are the answers I can provide:

  • Timing: The academic year generally starts late in August and ends by May.
  • Practical matters: Go to the course web, click course schedule and select the previous year (2017/2018). I recommend you to do this because 2018 info is not ready yet, thus literature, schedule and other info of the courses from 2017 may give you some idea of what to expect. Course page:  https://bit.ly/2qwIqH9
  • Environmental or Social Sciences?:  I want to make clear that you will not make calculations, measurements of the use of natural resources, or study the environmental processes and its management. That’s all about technical skills that you may have, or your colleagues may have already acquired. However, the first year you will learn about the social sphere, and the methods and theories to study it, such as interviewing or observation. Specifically, you will learn about how to make people come together to find solutions, about decision-making, and what social barriers are in place preventing actions by understanding the context and possibilities, how knowledge is developed, framed, and its possible effects on people. Of course, all group assignments, research, and work are focused on environmental issues, thus you will learn about environmental matters through them. Therefore, the practical skills you will master are how to use social research methods, designing stakeholders workshops and designing campaigns to achieve environmental goals.
  • Former students: There is a Facebook group for almost every year, and also a group of graduate students. Here is the link: https://bit.ly/2vbiYfZ
  • Living in Sweden: I am sure there is plenty of information out there, and you may be overwhelmed after reading all day long. My little input to your overload of information is that 99% people here speak English, and they do it very very well. There are also many international students, activities in town, and going out is cheaper at the nations in Uppsala. Biking to SLU is rewarding because of the views and forests all around, and the cold is not that bad if you wear a warm coat (second hand if necessary)… Just ask for advice once here.
  • The SLU: Nice environment, facilities, and people. Much more here: https://www.facebook.com/studysustainably/

All this said, please do not hesitate in sending emails and asking questions. Invest some time and good luck!

Ana

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Think of an example, and let’s discuss it

In my reading group, we discussed about The Phenomenological tradition today. Phenomenology is considered to be the experience of a phenomena and how this is interpreted. Some of the authors who contributed to this tradition are Edmund Husserl, Martin Buber…

The discussion in the group was about abstract stuff, as usual. During the discussion, it seems we enter in our own bubble using those new words and concepts which we just came across in the literature. Sometimes it gets difficult to follow, and adding up that English is not our mother tongue… well, let’s say it gets ironic to discuss about communication in this setting.

However, today I wanted to write about how we all relate some concepts to
examples when reading the text in order to understand it better. One of the readings talked about the understanding you create about someone through experiencing them (I-Thou), and how this may differ from the understanding which a person has about themselves. I personally related this part of the text to when old friends tell you “truths” about yourself that you might not recognise at the first sight. Because you trust them, then you may realise that your friends can know even the unconscious ways of being you may have, and that these are clearly visible to them and not to you. I’ve experience this many times, and I treasure those moments and the questions they bring… Of course, I am not sure if this is the right example for everyone, or if it is the correct way of understanding it, but we will have the opportunity to ask for clarification during the seminar tomorrow morning.

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Påske time!

Uppsala during Easter

Uppsala’s streets look much more cheerful these days: there are colorful feathers decorating some trees, people sit outside on the terraces, the snow is melting and it is mostly sunny!

Although we have to do some reading for the next seminar, there is some time now for thinking about a masters thesis topic and applying for internships!

The next course is Communication theory and strategy. The aim of the course is to recognize  classical communication theories, to critically reflect on these traditions’ occurrence in today’s most common communication strategies and to create a communication strategy, such as for an environmental advocacy campaign

 

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The fourth course is already here!

We just started a new course: Communication Theory and Strategy. The main course book is: Craig, R. T. & Muller, H. L. 2007. Theorizing Communication: Readings Across Traditions. Sage Publications. This book goes through communication traditions, and each chapter covers one.

The course aims to introduce classical communication theories, such as the rethorical tradition, and to raise awareness on how communication affect us consciously and unconsciously. These theories may be used as models to design a communication situation, to analyze practice (what you are doing) and to inform practice. The purpose would be to change a component for improvig a situation, and  using theories to achieve what you have thought about.

There is a planned lecture and seminar for each of these traditions, and students are divided in discussion groups in order to cover all the material, exchange summaries and send questions to the lecturers before the seminar. Also, there will be presentations and a final assigment.

If any questions, just comment below! (it will not be directly published)

Cheers,

Ana

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Information meeting

Hej Hej!

Today we had a meeting with director of studies for your programme and with the responsibles for the internship course.

We had the opportunity to ask questions regarding the terms and conditions of the internship. This can take place from June although the course is programmed for September, and it should be arranged by ourselves. As they told us, former students have done the internships in NGOs, municipalities, SEPA, European Union etc.

Also, we got to talk about alternativea and courses for the next year. We need to have 15ECTS in Research Methods, and we have the option of thaking independent courses worth 15ECTS or the internship. This means that the program is quite flexible for the second year and we have the opportunity of taking courses in other SLU campuses or universities. Thus, some people are going on a Erasmus exchange or considering to take courses at Centre for Environment and Development Studies (CEMUS).

Regarding the Masters thesis, we should contact them with an idea or a subject we would like to do research on, and they will match us with a supervisor during the next couple of months. It is possible to do it on distance, although they recommend to be on campus while writing.

From my perspective, this is great. If you plan the year ahead, the masters kind of adapts to you. This gives you the freedom to explore and move around! Of course, we have to check first with the supervisors, but it is worth the try!

Till next post,

Ana

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Group presentations – Working together is not that simple!

Hello again!

Today and yesterday, all groups presented their work to the class. We all seemed to be enthusiastic and keen on showing our final work. Each presentation took around 45 minutes, plus discussion and responding questions from the opponent group. Although the group project was not graded, and just evaluated with “Pass or Fail”, I must say that all groups seem to have put a lot of effort on their research.

It was great to see that the interviewees belonged to different sectors and areas in the island: politicians, citizens, farmers, landowners, industries, associations, institutions or action groups. To set an example, some research projects explored conflict cases that were mediatized, such as mining versus the designation of nature conservation area. Others explored how landowners in the same area of the island responded to the declaration of their land as protected areas in a very different way, and therefore the group investigated possible explanations in a theoretical way. Findings were presented in the form of quotes, but also as role plays and open questions to the audience. This creativity and dynamism when presenting helped to understand the cases a bit better.

In addition, when groups presented the second part of the report about group dynamics, it was interesting to notice the differences in our analysis and how diverse we all were as groups!. As an example, some groups purposely decided to split into sub-groups to be more efficient in their work, and in others a”pairing” dynamic happened in an unplanned way because of age, interests, culture or other reasons. Also, some groups decided to define roles and responsibilities, and designate each member to play a role out of their confort zone in order to make the most of the learning experience, whereas other groups took for granted these roles and dealt with complications on the way. When considering language skills, on the one hand, these implied a higher workload on swedish speakers when there were not many in a group, and maybe a barrier for communication or inclusion when it was the opposite case. On the other hand, groups lacking swedish speakers encountered barriers for communicating with interviewees and booking interviews. It was noted also that perceptions, insecurities, and concerns regarding group dynamics were difficult to detect and that it required time to build trust and create space for sharing these issues. Moreover, the weather conditions and having to travel long distances to meet interviewees, in some cases created situations that made people become closer and address incidents together, such as getting stuck in a car and being rescued!.

I believe that both the group work and the little guidance from lecturers have allowed us to reflect on what is necessary to complete “a task”, not just at the technical level but also at the personal one. In my view, attending to the presentations and participating in group exercises have made clearer the point that working together “is not that simple”, and that there are multiple things to be aware of when working towards a common goal.

Thanks for  reading

Ana

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Theoretical vs. Theories

In today’s post, I would like to point out something we talked about in my group while writing the report, and this was the difference from our home countries educational experiences and the education system experienced here in Sweden. My international group mates and I, originally from England, Italy, and Spain, noticed that when we studied in the University we were taught “theoretical stuff” as the content of a subject or a topic. However here in Sweden, it seems that the general rule is to focus on someone’s theory, and they consider this theory as one more among many. Also, when it comes to teaching, lecturers are open to other approaches, and in fact, this seems to be encouraged.

This perception may have something to do with a jump from sciences to social sciences in my case, or from bachelor’s level to master’s level… But still, it is interesting to perceive and share these differences in educational experiences with other students.

All the best,

Ana

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Daily group meetings

Hello there,

This week time has passed fast. We met up every day in Uppsala city, and working together we’ve had a lot of fun. Of course, our group meetings weren’t just about chatting and drinking Italian coffee. We also started working on the interview results, brainstorming what theories and concepts could suit better its overall content.

For the first part of the report, which is the research project on Gotland’s water shortage, we agreed on focusing on “Framing theory”, and concepts such as “conflict management” and “collaboration”. For the second part of the report, which is about our own observations of the group dynamics, we read through the recommended literature, chose some concepts that we considered would fit the experiences we had. We kept track of the work experiences on Gotland by taking notes, one different group member each day.

We submitted the report today and we will continue working on an oral presentation next week!

Feel free to leave a comment or asking any question 🙂

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Interviews, reflections and snow, lots of snow

Our time in Gotland is almost finished now. After having interviewed all actors, we have to work hard writing the report about our analysis, results, and also to go together through our notes about group dynamics. We will try to apply the theories about conflict management that we got familiar with in previous weeks. However, if group work continues being as it has been so far, I bet we will do great!

We actually got the chance to learn and reflect quite a lot these days. I particularly liked the exercises all groups did in the common room, such as sharing with others what it is like to be part of the project group, how each group organizes the work, and experiences or things that went wrong!

It’s been nice being “interviewers” for a few days and sharing this experience with each other, visiting Visby and having some “Saffranspannkaka” (a type of pancake from there).

 

General feeling: Very proud and happy with the group work experience! 100% recommendable.

All the best,

Ana

 

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Exploring Gotland

When the ferry dropped us at the harbor, the picture of Gotland as summer destination took the form of a snowy charming town. Some classmates were already waiting to drive us to the cabins, but most of us walked through the town for a while and enjoyed the views. After settling in, we had a common meeting, had dinner and got prepared for the first day!

In the morning, my group scheduled one first interview with Cementa (a mining company) in Slite. We took turns and organized the interviews depending on the place, day and languages the interviewees preferred. I led the first interview and my groupmate recorded and took notes as the interviewee answered our questionnaire. The next days we will interview several people from Arla, the Municipality and Länsstyrelsens.

There are bus cards and rental cars available for us to move around the island, thus the first day we could see the”white beaches” and admire Gotland’s landscape!  Luckily, some groupmates had experience driving on snowy roads, so I felt safe all the time 🙂

Best wishes,

Ana

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