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Heather Castleden

Professor and Impact Chair in Transformative Governance for Planetary Health

 

Meet Professor Heather Castleden, Professor and the President's Impact Chair in Transformative Governance for Planetary Health at the University of Victoria.

 

1. What advice do you have for early career researchers looking to establish themselves in the field of geography?

 

Find mentors in your new department and institution, meet with them regularly to talk about what you are doing and what advice they have for you to establish your research trajectory through funding, networking, and continued learning.

2. What skills do you wish you learned during your education that would have helped you in the job market today?

Accounting! Human resource management! Leadership!

3. What motivated you to pursue a career in geography?

 

The joy of life-long learning about our relationships to places!

4. Could you share a significant moment or project from your early career that had a lasting impact on your research?

Castleden 2021 - Heather Castleden.jpeg

I learned the difference between research based in a community (what I did) and community-based (-led, -driven, -engaged) participatory research (what I wanted to do) during my graduate education. I focused my thesis research on deafness and sign language in a small Dene community in the Northwest Territories but I should have focused it on the impacts of diamond mining on caribou and Dene. I learned that doing research that is respectful, reciprocal, responsible, relational, and RELEVANT to those who it affects is critical for community-based participatory research. This approach has been my modus operandi ever since!

 

5. What advice do you have for early career researchers navigating the challenges of academia and research?

 

Say yes when you are super stoked about something; say no (when you can) to things that don't get you super stoked, to keep your schedule manageable. Make decisions in consultation with mentors and loved ones. Avoide the "toxic productivity" trap (check out the Academic Aunties Podcast).

 

6. Can you share examples of how your research findings have been applied in real-world situations or policy-making?

 

My collaborative research with Dr Onyx Sloan Morgan and Huu-ay-aht First Nations has been applied to their Treaty negotiations, implementation, and upcoming 15-year review.

7Are there specific conferences, journals, or resources you recommend for staying updated with the latest trends and research in geography?

 

Canadian Geographies (of course!). For those who are human geographers: Progress in Human Geography; ACME: An International Journal of Critical Geographies; Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography; Environment and Planning.

8. From your perspective, what do you think the future holds for the field of geography, especially concerning emerging technologies and methodologies?

 

Critical Geographies as a field of study is essential for making sense of the world we live in and seeking equitable, diverse, decolonial, inclusive, and just futures for planetary health, the health of all living matter on earth.

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