Graduate education should challenge traditional modes of learning and create new knowledge. In the field of ecohealth, however, that doesn’t always happen, says Mathieu Feagan, a 2014 IDRC Research Award recipient.
Feagan set out to examine how the knowledge of graduate students, young professionals, and early career academics in Canada and Latin America could be better applied to contribute to ecological sustainability and human health. This inquiry built on his PhD research about how current academic training and research often disregard the experiences and skills of experts-to-be and therefore maintain the status quo.
His IDRC project’s working groups, Feagan says, were made up of “incredibly thoughtful people committed to social-environmental justice.” But, he says, “our position as graduate students, interns, and short-term contract holders puts us, in some sense, in competition for a limited number of jobs, few of which are actually designed to support our aspirations for social-environmental justice. Learning about the different ways that we each come to terms with this and take up action in the North and the South, will continue to be a powerful experience for me,” he says.