Monday, March 16, 2009
Dr. Madre thinking outloud
My 11 year old Lucas has decided that when I get my Phd. he's going to start calling me Dr. Madre.
I Like it.
On my last day in Belgium I visited the University of Leuven to get a feel for what it takes to publish a dissertation there. Though I knew they had a strong reputation in International Cooperation policy research, I did not know that they also have a special program for foreign Phd students, with the intent of globalizing the University's research base and reputation. They encourage students to spend at least one part of their Phd period outside of Belgium. So it looks like the right place for me to be...
and oh yes, this is Belgium, so it's also FREE! (I had been sincerely worried that the tuition fees would keep me from being able to explore this possibility right now. ) AND I can work on it for as long or a short a period as it takes to finish it, as long as I submit it for review following the university's annual Phd review deadlines.
My mind has not been able to turn off since. I have always been a night owl, but now a most frustrating kind of insomnia has set in, as it always does when I am approaching a new change that excites me. I need to get focused on packing and moving, and yet I am constantly distracted by the gorgeous background image of the dissertation project developing in my mind.
If I could take everything I know now, and explore a couple of new areas that I know are very exciting in terms of potential for our global future, what would I want to say to the world? What would I want ordinary people and other professionals and scholars who might read it to learn from all the things I've learned - good and bad? How can I deconstruct myths and false assumptions about the world I have seen, and reconstruct a thesis that will open reader's minds to new possibilities for a global future together?
Yes, I am dead serious... I lie awake at night thinking about this ridiculous stuff and it is seriously annoying. There's so much I want to say, and so many dots I want to connect. It's a comfort to ground myself with the idea of writing something that must be academically valid. I've got lots of ideas and opinions that are mine, but the book I will write will not be about me - it will be about the development of community-driven social experiments like mine all over the world, and new ways of understanding how they can come together for greater global development good.
I've got the names of some professors there who are working in fields that overlap with my interests. What I need to do now is write a kind of elaborate proposal for the book that I will write, what I will set out to prove, and the research I will undertake to draw academically valid conclusions from. If one of them likes my proposal enough to commit to becoming my academic promoter within their own existing domain of research within the university, then I'm in. So I've got lots more homework to do before I can really start pulling this all together.
(Don't worry, if you don't yet understand any of what I'm talking about, rest assured, you're not meant to yet... I am in major ramble mode.)
Definitely want to build in further study time (1-2 years) with the Buddhist economics-driven Asoke community in Thailand that N and I visited last year (for 5 weeks). For a year I've been dreaming about what I'd do with those kids in a group if they had internet connected computers. They grow up with an active understanding of their responsibility to work with nature in a way that the rest of the world desperately needs... how I would love to engage them in communicating that to others online. I'm also very interested to visit Brazil and have a careful look at what impact the solar powered wi-fi they've recently launched there in some villages is having on local lives. Incidentally, the community I'm moving to in Brussels has the potential to provide a very interesting case study for what I'd like to do. Wait 'til I tell you about Boisfort!
There are a couple of online communities I'm looking at to include as case studies illustrating the different kinds of community-driven development concepts that are emerging. I've got a short list building and have started contacting a few folks. It's feeling good to be finally building a new saddle to get back into again that could mean my path will cross with some old friends. It's exciting.
But I can't sleep. My dear N. is trying to be patient with me.
I am torn about whether or not and how much of all this I actually want to start putting online - and where to start putting it online. I have a domain called Internet4Change which could be a home for a new blog. I could go back to using the great workspace and discussion tools at ned.com, but community activity has been slow there recently. Or then again... maybe that's a good thing? I could write about it here, but am not yet convinced that's the kind of transition this blog needs for it's upcoming "out of africa" phase. Maybe I shouldn't share it with anybody, but that's not how I usually think I work best...
At any rate, I need to start getting my thoughts on this out of my head and organized in some form, or I believe my head may indeed explode on my pillow. I am stuck for the moment, trying to decide on the best place to start doing that.