Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tentatively Embracing Complexity Again?

I continue to be on track with my running (pun intended!). I haven't progressed beyond ten minutes in one go; but since one of my goals is not to push myself too hard, I can say that I am making great progress in my goal of not pushing myself too hard! Steady progress in running ability is not actually possible. Many training schedules include a week of holding steady or even cutting back a little every few weeks. After my initial steady improvement, I am not surprised to find myself hitting a plateau now.

I'm having a hard time finding time for research, though. My life has gotten immensely busy again. Because of lots of interest from students, former students, faculty members, and the president of my university, I decided that I could not let go of our plan to construct a Peace Studies minor where I teach. Besides, I am teaching a Peace Studies course again, and revisiting the material has been very good for me. I am also amazed all over again to witness the effect of this course on my students. This weekend is family weekend, and the parents of one of my students came by my office to say that the Peace Studies course is their daughter's favorite course, and they asked me for reading recommendations so that they could talk with her intelligently about this material.

I'm still putting in some time for research -- having some real deadlines helps keep me focused! I have a paper I have to finish this weekend. I should be working on it right now. So I will.

Busy though I have been, I am reasonably happy. My decision to resume with Peace Studies has made me happier than I expected. It had been a good plan when I thought I would be relieved of chairing my department. But when I learned that I had to continue as Chair of Philosophy for two more years, I considered letting go of the Peace Studies plan, at least temporarily. Deciding not to let it go does complicate my life. But it feels really important, and that gives me energy.

And my life as Chair of my department is in fact better this year. We have a new faculty member who has brought good energy to our department, and I am amazed at how much of a difference this has made. I've been carrying so much of the weight of our department for so long that I honestly did not know that things could be different if others had time and were willing to take some initiative in departmental projects. I've always liked my colleagues, but they've tended to either be focused on their teaching and research or highly involved in other initiatives in our university. Having someone who has taken interest in our department and wants to help it develop to its full potential is making a huge difference. Our department now gets together for lunch every week, and we have set up a schedule of sharing our research with each other once a month.

So, I'm busy, but things are looking up, and I am very glad about this.

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