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Miriam Huitric, the centre’s director of studies, reflects on teaching, time and murder mysteries
- Miriam Huitric has been a part of the Stockholm Resilience Centre since before its launch in 2007
- The centre's Master's programme is designed to provide future PhD students with a comprehensive understanding of sustainability science
- Miriam is certain that the training the students get at the SRC gives them the best foundation for becoming the next big thing in sustainability science
Miriam’s idea of binge watching involves sitting through all 12 seasons of Murder, She Wrote, an American crime drama from the mid-80s about the elegant amateur detective Jessica Fletcher.
That may not get her down with the kids of today, but few at the SRC are as appreciated among the students as Miriam. For them she is a dedicated, passionate and supportive teacher who applies humour to call people’s bluffs.
Not entirely different from Madam Fletcher herself.
An essential part of the centre
Miriam’s history with the centre goes back to her own science training during the early 2000s. She was part of a research group at the Systems Ecology department at Stockholm University that later would form the core staff of the SRC when it launched in 2007. Since then Miriam has been an essential part of centre’s identity, culture and how education is an integral part of the research.
Indeed, the current Master’s programme is designed to provide future PhD students with a better understanding of what sustainability science actually is and help them develop new research ideas from an early point.
Master’s students at the centre are closely connected with the researchers in projects and field work.
Since graduating, several of the students have moved on to become PhD students or research assistants at the centre and elsewhere.
It’s a privilege to follow our students from their arrival to the final seminar for their thesis, to see them grow and become research competent.
Although the Master’s programme is clearly defined as a research-focused programme, the centre gets an increasing number of applicants who want to be practitioners.
“I take this to mean they see the value understanding how science is done before moving into decision-making arenas.”
A narrowing kaleidoscope
But there have been challenges and regrets along the way too. “The cost of being so close to research is that it competes with teaching time,” Miriam explains. And having the funds to support teaching that pushes the curriculum further is not easy.
Limited funding has affected the students too. When tuition fees for students outside the EU was introduced in 2011 it dramatically changed the diversity of students that would otherwise apply for the centre’s Master’s programme.
I love the diversity in the class room and it’s a huge shame when this is affected because it narrows the kaleidoscope of views.
Like the rest of the world, Covid-19 forced the centre to quickly adapt to a completely new situation.
Suddenly all the talk about making the world more resilient had to be applied to the centre itself.
Almost overnight, teaching had to be moved to video conferencing. Students and staff had to be mobilised in a way never experienced before. But it worked and there may even be a silver lining there as well.
“While online teaching cannot replace face-to-face interaction, Covid-19 has helped us re-think how we teach and opened up for new education opportunities that we never had time to delve into earlier,” Miriam explains.
Whatever changes the pandemic will bring, Miriam is certain that the training the students get at the SRC gives them the best foundation for becoming the next big thing in sustainability science.
That they may never have heard of Murder, She Wrote is just one of life’s minor compromises.
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