Ryan  Burns, phd
October 6, 2012

Changing blog directions slightly

Two recent events got me re-thinking some of my work, and if I were much of a blogger I would probably separate these into two posts. But I’m not really, so I’ll pack them into one.

The first event was when I was turned down for dissertation research funding and decided with my adviser to drop urban geography from list of PhD topics. This was a huge bummer for me since I absolutely love the topic and think I can make significant contributions to it. But looking at the big picture of my dissertation I think I may have been taking on too much. Instead, my qualification exams (the ones where I moved from “doctoral student” to “doctoral candidate”) covered urban geography and my adviser reassured me I can still consider myself an urban geographer on the job market.

The second event was when I was explaining “public scholarship” to a colleague recently. I realized that my academic voice has changed pretty dramatically over the last 2 years and I’m more comfortable speaking to specialized audiences than I have been in the past. As a result, I think my posts here have been more specialized and probably generally more difficult for a general audience to understand (I welcome you to argue with me on this :). I began this blog with the intent of sharing my thoughts and life updates with as broad an audience as possible, but I think I’ve diverged from that goal a little bit.

So, with these in mind I have a couple thoughts. First, I think I’m going to use this space to more often draw connections between my research and urban geography. In terns of strategy, this will keep me updated on urban scholarship so that if/when I market myself as an urban geographer on the job market, I’ll know exactly how my work continues to speak to that audience. But also I’m going to try to tone down my writing voice here, and speak to a much broader audience than I have been over the last year or so. Every now and then I’ll need to bust out the big academic guns, so to speak, but for the most part this will return to how I wrote when I started the blog. I hope this will allow my many non-academic friends, family members, and colleagues participate in these conversations (haha, more like a monologue! :)).

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