New Definitions for Old Words
by Sarah Gillig -- September 27th, 2013

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in school for a month and it’s already October (well, close enough!). Things have been busy, busy, busy.  And I’ve discovered that there is a word that I have been making assumptions about for a long time, but that actually has more to it than I thought: policy.

You’ll see why when you look at my course list:

Marine Policy with Dr. Mike Orbach–covering the history of human-ocean interactions, the ‘total ecology’ of marine and coastal policy, and how regulation and legislation come about.

Political Ecology with Dr. Lisa Campbell–this is hard to explain without getting really long-winded, but basically we discuss the many, many, many layers of complexity around pretty much everything.

Theory and Policy Analysis of the Commons with Dr. Xavier Basurto–where we discuss theories and complexities around managing common resources.

Marine Ecology with Dr. Doug Nowacek–how things work! And field trips (see The Birds)

Advanced GIS with John Fay–building cool models and learning more about the guts of GIS–more on this in a future post.

Notice all those classes with ‘Poli___’ in the title? Guess it’s not that surprising that my understanding of what policy and political mean would be challenged!

I had always thought that policy meant something that was set in stone by the government (this is public policy), with occasionally a secondary meaning of an established (probably written down) practice of, say, a business (like a restaurant whose policy is to not serve alcohol on Sundays). Turns out policy is much bigger than that, encompassing written, unwritten, formal, informal, conscious and subconscious things that make up societal practices, behaviors, cultures and normsWe’re surrounded by policy all the time, usually without even noticing. We’re living policy all the time in subconscious (maybe even unconscious) ways.

And of course, I now understand that political goes way beyond party politics and deep into why we do what we do.

So there you go, new definitions for Friday! One of the things I want to know now is, how do we go about changing these policies to make them more ocean-friendly?




©2016 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
how to contact us > | login to the site > | site disclaimers >

footer nav stuff