Pursuit of wisdom

Since starting this academic caper I am constantly surprised at how much I really don’t know. There’s more research after a PhD?!? It takes six months to publish an article?!? The study on Balinese cocktailology got funding?!? The more I know, the more I know I don’t know, yet the unknowing cultivates an appetite for knowledge and to me it seems that having a whole life to explore wisdom frontiers is one of the most luxurious affordances of our world.

The pursuit of wisdom so far has been signposted with some very inspiring characters, and after an immersive encounter with several during last week’s Beyond Behaviour Change symposium at RMIT I am feeling tipsy with ideas and my fingers are champing to spill impressions.

Beyond Behaviour Change is easily the most intimidating conference I have ever had a paper accepted at. Twenty-five world leading social theorists from Australia, Denmark, America and England presenting on sustainability transitions. Elizabeth Shove, Yolande Strengers, Gordon Walker, Cecily Maller and Theodore Schatzki together for three intense days. These thinkers are inspiridating in myriad ways, not only for their proliferation of seminal social concepts since before I was born, but also for their fresh and relevant worldviews. During the course of the symposium I felt humbled and encouraged by the interest, humility and patience that the big kids in social practice theories extended to each other, and the constructive feedback lavished on the younger generation of researchers.

I was also happily awed at the positive outlook and the humility of these doyens, outside the professional realm. The more important the person, the less important and blustery the demeanour. Theodore Schatzki (pictured) epitomises this; one of the most widely cited social practice theorist, he was perhaps the most unassuming, generous and encouraging with his comments. This is an impression I cherish, and hope like him, to both contribute in meaningful ways to sustainability discourse and also inspire the same confidence and motivation in future researchers being born today.

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