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an academic year in photos and facts and reflections

December 19, 2016

lisa hammershaimb



In early January of this year, I wrote a post entitled A Week in Articles, with No Charts. It was a nod to Martin Weller’s A Year in Books with Pointless Charts which itself was apparently a nod to Jane Rawson (who is yet another name to add to the “Amazing women from Australia” list.) As the year began in reflection, it feels only fitting that reflection once more marks its conclusion thus An Academic Year in Photos and Facts and Reflections has arrived! And full disclosure, once more this is self-indulgent and most likely of little interest to a world-wide audience but as Weller says, “hey, blogging!”  : )

2016: The Year of Eye Contact, Using My Voice Audibly, and Fine-Tuning My Packing Skills
2015 ended with the realization that I’d been doing this academic thing long enough that it was time for me to leave the (relative) safety of my computer-mediated bubble and see how my ideas would stand up/resonate with other academics and other graphic design educators. In order to test the former, I entered the Athabasca University Three Minute Thesis Competition in March. Surprisingly, I won second place! You can watch my presentation here:

In order to test the latter, (i.e. mingle with other graphic design educators) paradoxically (because designers essentially create the interfaces of the internet) I realized I needed to hit the road.

So, 2016 became the year of movement and meeting people—the year of intentionality about being in situations where talking and eye contact took precedence over reading and writing words. I wrote conference proposals that were accepted, was a member of various panel discussions, and staged a pop-up art installation about graphic design education. Ruby developed an affinity for high thread count sheets, her childminders, and ultimately became a far more relaxed airline passenger than I’ve ever been.

Though the process was intimidating in many ways, I found the more I engaged with other design educators—telling them about my research and listening to their stories—the more confident and excited I became about my own research direction. I used to think that my position on the relative fringe of design education made my work quirky at best—more sideshow curiosity than something to be taken seriously. I now realize I am uniquely positioned to build bridges between arenas and people. Far from being a hinderance, my somewhat quirky persona is an asset because it makes me approachable and helps me demystify what is honestly a pretty abstract concept. This year made me realize that the things that are best about me and make me most unique are also the things that also make me most insecure. It’s hard to be unashamedly who I know that I am inside but…I know this year has made me more brave. I think I am not alone in this dilemma and I hope I can be catalytic in helping others be themselves truly.

The nomadic life stopped in late October when I buckled down to re-write my dissertation proposal. The past two months have been a consistent cycle of writing, editing, reading, chatting with the supervisor (who isn’t a robot) and then writing and editing and reading some more. I’m the closest I’ve been so far to being able to both present and defend my proposal before my committee and hopefully I can do both those activities in the not too distant future. Speaking of the dissertation proposal, you can view it here and even offer comments if you’d like!

If all goes well, I’m hoping 2017 is the year of research + writing so 2018 can be the year of a new prefix added to my name. That said, this process is teaching me on a daily basis to only be here and now…so in that spirit, here’s to the New Year and whatever it may bring.

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