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On mentorship in academic circles

I’ve written before about how important it is for me to mentor undergraduate and graduate students, whether they are mine or other professors. My teaching philosophy is student-centric. I’m interested in improving the world through educating the younger (and sometimes older!) generations. I also take mentoring young (or early-career) PhDs and up-and-coming PhD students.

I’ve enormously enjoyed my academic career. Like any profession, it is not without its ups and downs. But to get me through the PhD and my early career, I had fantastic mentors, starting with my former PhD advisor, continuing with my doctoral committee, and of course, my brothers (who are also academics) and my parents (also professors). But not only UBC professors from the environmental field (I did my PhD at UBC) were willing to help me. Other faculty members on campus and in different universities were always fast to answer my relentless questioning via email and at conferences.

In my career as a faculty member, I’ve had the mentorship of former professors of mine, faculty colleagues at The University of British Columbia, and in other universities. And what I have found is that every single one of the professors I’ve ever asked advice from, has given it completely selflessly and with my best interest at heart. Interestingly enough, with new media (Twitter, Facebook, and the like), what I have found is a broad community of scholars from different disciplines who are always eager and willing to help, and who do so also selflessly.

Thus, as I have been blessed with the support, help, advice and guidance of other scholars, I also have taken it upon myself to mentor junior scholars. I also try, with my online presence, to provide useful information for other academics in the disciplines I follow. And that’s also partly the purpose of #ScholarSunday and #MyResearch– to build a community of smart people who do scholarly research.

Given the challenges currently facing higher education and academia (ever-shrinking budgets, technological challenges to the profession, ever-increasing demands on our time, and a dearth of tenure-track positions), I think it is incredibly important to mentor other folks, and to build a community. I’m a scholar of cooperation. I live, breathe and sleep thinking about and doing cooperation.

To everyone who ever mentored me to get where I am, THANK YOU. I raise my glass to you:

Leo DiCaprio great gatsby raising glass gif

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