Graduate School: What and why?

Often people ask me whether I will go to graduate school, and what exactly I would want to study. Law School? An MBA? Maybe an MSW? Graduate school is exciting to me because it is an opportunity to learn and to expand my understanding of the world. Mostly, though, it is a chance to strengthen my ability to serve. My ultimate goal on this planet is to serve myself, my family, my community and the world to the best of my ability. What should I study to be able to do that more effectively?

I can begin by looking at the skills and knowledge that I would like to have so that I can share these with my community:

  • gardening and alternative food production
  • group facilitation and team management
  • alternative medicine (nutrition, naturopathy, homeopathy)
  • bodywork (massage, physical therapy, energy work)
  • spiritual practice (meditation, ritual, prayer)
  • food preparation (cooking, brewing, canning)
  • ecology, environmental management, alternative energy
  • woodworking, metalworking and natural building
  • music, dance, performance
  • counseling, mediation and conflict resolution
  • teaching, pedagogy, parenting
  • organizing, event planning, program development

This list is long, but not even complete. The skills and knowledge critical to our local and global communities in this generation are many. Still, this gives me a good start for looking at potential graduate school programs. With each option, I ask: “will this support and empower me to more effectively support and empower my community? What skills and knowledge will this program help me to bring to my community and this planet?”

These are big questions, but if I want graduate school to support my ultimate goal of service then they are the most important questions. Any advice?


4 Replies to “Graduate School: What and why?”

  1. Typically, I refrain from responding to your posts, mainly because I know of the brilliant followers you have, but I couldn’t resist. I asked myself similar questions before applying and accepting admittance to a university for graduate studies. In short, I am majoring in urban and regional planning, a program that I found offered options.

    While here, I will enroll in a variety of classes that will provide exposure to resource management, environmental justice, alternative food systems, even economics. It’s a multidisciplinary program that brings students together with varying interests to ultimately improve the environment, communities and lives of people. I’ve met students who are interested in transportation systems, developing healthier communities, even students passionately devoted to securing access to water. It’s been an amazing experience so far.

    And while it won’t offer courses on alternative medicine or cooking, both things I am very interested in learning, it does cultivate an environment to pursue such interests. I don’t mean to persuade you to come to Wisconsin and major in URP so we can be buddies again, which would be really, really great for me. Instead, I wanted to offer you an example of a program that may be interesting. When I first spoke to people about graduate studies, I was overwhelmingly shocked by the pessimism expressed. People assumed I was lost and seeking a bullet on my resume to propel me forward, in order to be ‘successful,’ when really I was just eager to learn.

    You won’t find the perfect program, and I can’t offer you advice really. Just follow your gut, you’re an incredibly smart person, and I am wildly jealous of the students that will have you as a colleague.

    1. Jimmy, thank you for this amazing response. First, congratulations! I am so amazed to hear that you have started such a great program in Wisconsin. It sounds perfect for you and makes me even more excited for graduate school. URP is a great angle to take towards creating positive social change both locally and globally. With the multidisciplinary skills and knowledge that I imagine you will gain there, you will be an incredible asset to any team working in urban planning, agriculture, resource management and beyond. I have considered that area of study before and will look more closely at your program at Wisconsin.

      And of course, as always, thank you for the kind words Jimmy. You are an incredible person, and I am inspired to hear what you are up to. Let’s meet up soon!

  2. JD/MBA! Many schools offer this option where you can get both at the same time. Fancy that! My understanding is that a strictly MBA program is more about meeting other people to either get business ideas or to find business partners. However, with the JD/MBA programs, the business savvy coupled with the ability to handled all the legal hurdles in pursuing a business/nonprofit etc will be unbeatable! 🙂

    1. Thanks for the advice Brianna! JD/MBA sounds like a huge undertaking, but I know it would provide me with unique and wide-ranging skills. Are you doing this? I agree with what you say about the MBA as a networking program, and I have been drawn to law school for years. How has law school been for you? And any specific JD/MBA program you have heard of? Thanks and best of luck with everything!

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