Thursday, August 28, 2008

Prospectus: Round 2

Working through a prospectus is like planning how to navigate a travel destination. I recently spent two weeks in Ireland. Before leaving, we planned an itinerary, confirmed our accommodations, and packed according to the future projections on It seemed so simple. We had made decisions, and now we were getting ready to execute them. Better yet, the plan worked. Just as I am sure my prospectus (and subsequent dissertation) will work.

What strikes me about both processes is how we make the itinerary in the first place, and how we feel about it in the end. When we set an agenda (with accommodation bookings and maps or research questions and rationales), we have to make decisions about what will be most interesting, enjoyable, beneficial, or even safe. Then, the further we move into the experience, new ideas, new directions, and new possibilities emerge. It becomes our job to wade through the possibilities while also keeping an eye on our original focus. Even more intriguing is how we can often become so attached to our original journey that we turn our backs to new opportunities. We convince ourselves that the original plan is the best plan. Sometimes it is. Sometimes we need to make changes. We may also become so enchanted with new possibilities that we miss out on what 'might have been.'

Right now in Round 2 of my prospectus I am working through these challenges. In Round 1 I became bombarded with new (to me) literature, new questions, and new potential directions. I think I may have lost focus on my original 'itinerary.' Thankfully, I have a highly trained and supportive advisor who was able to help me articulate my goals, my questions, and my interests. So, I think I've found a balance between my original plan and my Round 1 construction of that plan. Conceptual organization is difficult, but I think it'll prove to be as fulfilling as my trip to Ireland!