getting my head round things

Now that I’m into my second week at MSU, things have calmed down a little. I’ve ploughed through most of the necessary admin, met many of the people I’ll be working with here at CSIS and throughout MSU (although being summer campus is quiet right now – the undergrads are gone and the postgrads are away on their fieldwork), and finally got my apartment into a liveable state. The next few weeks will no doubt be spent really getting my head around what we’re aiming to achieve with this integrated ecological-economic modelling project. For example, during the next month or two I’ll take a trip up to our study area to get a feel for the landscape, see the experimental plots that have been put in place previously, and gain a better understanding regarding the subsequent effects of timber harvesting. Also I plan on meeting and interviewing several key management stakeholders from organisations such as Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy to get their perspective on the landscape and what they might gain from our work. I’ve also been examining some of the tools that we hope to utilise and build upon, such as the USFS’ Forest Vegetation Simulator.

So whilst I get my head around exactly what this new project is all about, I’ll continue to blog about some of the work coming out of my Phd thesis. I’ve been threatening to do this for a while, and now I really mean it. Specifically, I’ll walk through the later stages of my thesis where I explored the potential of more reflexive forms of model validation – seeing the modelling process as an end in itself, a learning process, rather than a means to an end (i.e. the model) which is then used to ‘predict’ the future. I’ll discuss the philosophy underlying this perspective before re-examining my efforts to engage the model I produced with local stakeholders after the model had been ‘completed’ with their minimal input.

And of course, I’ll throw in the odd comment to let you know how things are going here in this new world I’ve recently landed in. Like my trip to the grey and windswept Lake Michigan at the weekend – I’m going to have to look into this kite-surfing stuff…


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