CECHR Annual Symposium

The sunshine and blue sky made their 2017 debut this past Wednesday, just in the nick of time for the annual CECHR Symposium. It turned out to be a wonderful day of presentations from many backgrounds; professors, PhD students, and professionals, all set the stage for exchanges of knowledge and constructive discussion. Not to mention the unlimited tea and coffee! The event took place at the West Park Conference Centre just a few minutes bike ride out Perth Road. Though, with the weather so delightful, I must admit I wouldn’t have minded if I had to bike nearly to Perth. 

Can we just talk about networking for a second? …talk about a buzz word! Usually, when I hear networking, I usually think of that thing my parents tell me to do making connections and developing relationships with people older than me and with higher academic degrees. Specifically, I think of people who have a significant interest in something I am trying to achieve or learn more about, have the experience to back it up, and can open doors for me. I tend to assume one would have to be older than me to fit that description. With that said, if you were to ask me today what networking means, I think you might get a different answer than you would have in the past.

After the CECHR Symposium, my definition of networking broadened and I understood and appreciated that I could – and should – aim to network with people my age as often as possible. While I often engage with my fellow students, it’s rare that I consider these engagements, ‘networking.’ But in reality, they are some of the best people I could network with.

I think it’s really important to have this group of bright, motivated, creative group of academics around me all the time and the CECHR event was another one of those times we could all bounce ideas off each other, open up in a setting that is different from the classroom, and dig into subjects which we didn’t even know we had interests in.

As an MSc student in sustainability with a background in environmental science, I really enjoyed how CECHR’s symposium was a combination of both the hard and soft sciences. PhD student, Nandan Mukherjee, touched on social and philosophical issues like our relationship with water while Dr. Mark Cutler dove into the hard sciences by studying tree mortality and using remote sensing to illustrate forest resilience.

Brief but thorough presentations were followed by time to converse in smaller groups with the presenter. The day elicited questions and discussion, and I will speak for everyone when I say we walked away with our minds racing and a refreshed attitude.

One of my favorite analogies of the day was from Tony Hodgson when he explained how hard it is to make significant change in dealing with resistance. His example was of a massive ship on the sea struggling to turn and the rudder of that ship needed large amounts of energy to do so. However, if a small rudder is put on the big (for lack of better adjectives) rudder, it helps turn the big rudder which turns the ship and contributes considerably to the whole process. We can see these sort of catalytic relationships in most everything we do and I thought this example really highlighted the very thing that CECHR stands for, metaphorically and literally.

Thanks for spending the day feeding our brains and bellies, CECHR!!

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