W. Justin Ritchie
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
A graduate degree appeals to me because of the space it provides to deeply explore ideas on sustainable human systems. The nature of short-term thinking I experienced while in private industries compelled me to find a place where I could work on aspects of economic logic that integrated knowledge of long-term global processes.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
UBC interested me as a place to study because of the opportunity to be part of the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and to work with my research supervisor, Hadi Dowlatabadi. Interdisciplinary perspectives on sustainability issues are important to my work and there are very few places in North America that integrate the range of perspectives that Hadi and IRES provide.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
Working toward a PhD in a traditional disciplinary program wasn’t an interesting pathway for me because I felt like many of the requirements would be a detour to my research interests. Being at IRES allowed me to start working on the kinds of questions I wanted to study from the first day.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
Though I knew that Vancouver had a reputation for encouraging a healthy lifestyle, I'm continually surprised at how this stands out when I travel. There's a culture of physical health here that is very engaging.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I’m looking forward to integrating a wide range of disciplinary approaches to answer the types of questions I’m interested in.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
My biggest challenge will be fitting my work into the traditional forms used to evaluate proficiency in the academic world.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
I feel like my research advisor understands where I am coming from and helps to direct my efforts to be more productive.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Because sustainability is broad field of study, I’ve been prepared to do research in this area by great teachers who have helped me develop critical thinking skills. Unstructured travel has helped me with the ability to make sense of confusing environments. The life experiences I’ve had in so many different professional situations greatly helps me to do this work.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I enjoy creating podcast, radio and video broadcasts with my friends for our non-profit organization The Extraenvironmentalist.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Get practice with writing from the start, even if it is unrelated to your work at first. Setting a goal of a few hundred words a day is an excellent way to help break up writers block and to open up creativity.