What I learned at Evenstad

Hey! My master thesis is finally finished and delivered. It was quite a journey, which ends slowly. The thesis just needs to be defended in a couple of weeks, and then that’s it. Another chapter ends. Or starts.

The end of a chapter requires somehow a summary. To reflect what has happened, but also to see what will be meaningful as a next step. So, wondering about what were the most important things which I learned in Evenstad, I surprise myself. They all have not too much to do with ecology, or better: they are not restricted to ecology. And I think that is a good thing. And it is part of the game, it is «applied».  But what are those mystical things I am talking about?

1. Critical Thinking, or: «But Why?»

Questioning anything can be an act of revolution in an educational system, which is based on authority and repetition. At INN Evenstad I always had the feeling that questioning anything and sometimes even everything was welcome and even appreciated. Part of the win here is also the group size and the different backgrounds of the students and lecturers, which sometimes bring a somehow ‘explosive’ mixture of opinions. To celebrate those moments of disagreement and to discover the reasons has been one of the best intellectual experiments for me here.

2. Understand what’s going on, or: The Stat’s.

My growing interest in statistics and the calculations on which results and conclusions of studies are based has given me much more insight into the ‘heart’ of other studies. Now I can try to understand what is wrong or right. I can see what to search for, if I am not familiar with the analysis, which are used in papers. It is an important step, when entering any field of science, to stop to be scared by the unknown.

3. Communication, or: How to be stupid.

Another group-size advantage I think, is the necessity to speak in the courses here.  I used to be ghost-like quiet, hidden in the last row of the lecture rooms. A typical, difficult to detect, cryptic species. Why? Because I do not want to say stupid things. And how can that be achieved? By not speaking at all, of course. So once I started to speak and to ask questions here, I learned that it is actually not so painful to say stupid (i.e. wrong) things. It helps the mind to develop and it helps thoughts to be shaped when they are challenged by exposing them to other people. And in the end of the day, they can be a little, little bit less stupid 😉

4. Don’t be scared, or: Skip the magic.

Science is NOT magic. It can be very difficult, complicated and hard to understand. But that is not the goal, not at all. The more complicated a topic gets, the more effort should be made to make science understandable. If anything seems ‘magical’, i.e. unreachable and un-understandable to me, I do not accept so easily the ‘god’, i.e. producer of that thought. Magic is finished.

Now I will run off in the field to chase some spiders again.

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Ha det bra!

Lisa

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