Tag Archives: graduate students

Katie Kish, Ph.D. candidate


Hello! I am Katie Kish. First and foremost I am a wifey, sister, daughter, friend, and am committed to community. Thankfully, my position as a PhD student in the Department of Environment and Resource Studies allows for all of that to be nourished alongside my research. No small part of this is from the encouragement and support of my two supervisors, Dr. Smurph and Dr. Steve Quilley.

Together, our collective (but very different) passions and interests are forging many interesting research projects. Some of these projects include the Experiential Learning Group, and a faculty wide festival (- ENVigorate), that was a huge success in bringing people across the faculty together. We are also working on Open Source Ecology UW, a first year Big History course, and a tacit knowledge and hands-on curriculum (with Lewis Dartnell, author of The Knowledge).

My primary research focuses on the Metcalf Foundation and SSHRC funded reMaker Society – a part of my overall Environmental Politics at the Margins project – and a larger group project on the ‘third basin’ of attraction

Most of this work is done in collaboration with the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (where I am the PhD research fellow) and the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation.

My background is in environmental science (geomorphology – UVic), ecological economics, and systems approaches to health (YorkU). Having started in the hard sciences, I have since come to realize I am definitely a big-picture/interdisciplinary thinker (with a serious love-fest with tedious event management and paperwork…). Some of my (very broad) research interests include:

  • Resilience studies and global ‘opportunity in a post-release state’ (aka: what happens after a collapse of society… without saying ‘collapse’)
  • Big History – the civilizing process and growth of complexity over the past 6 billion years and what these both might look like into the next 6 billion years (note: thinking in these time scales makes getting a puppy seem like a very good idea)
  • Big History as an origin myth for ontological security
  • The role of open source and micro technology, innovation, and political-philosophy as a new approach to a globally connected commons-based distributed political economy
  • Terror management, meaning frameworks, and community development for long-term behavioural change

My primary work centers on the idea that ‘we’ (global society) have passed environmental and social thresholds beyond what ‘sustainability’ plans promised to save us from. Because of this, any future socio-ecological world must include radical social transformation and innovation.

I am broadly interested in the roles to be played within a new future, as well as in the ways people find meaning and hope through newly defined political, economic and social systems. We are close to a tipping point, and on the other side of this tipping point, there is great possibility for creativity to emerge, prosper, and help shape a new future. There are a number of people already tapping into this creativity, within which lies solutions to our deepest problems. I am interested in learning more about these people and what their attitudes, perceptions, and socio-economic frameworks can tell us about larger environmental behavioural change.

This all rests on a caveat…to allow any of these solutions to take hold more broadly, we must be ready to challenge the status quo – to be a little uncomfortable and let go of our security blankets. It may be a long dark road ahead, but there are already people lighting lanterns along the way… I look forward to meeting them.

willowBeyond school… I recently got a puppy – her name is Zoe (props to all those who immediately got the Firefly reference), she is a lot of work, and I love her.

I am the newest of newbies on the guitar, crochet quite a lot, camp regularly, sing constantly and am dipping my toes into the maker world (mostly wood working). I’m currently working on a fairly epic crochet blanket, rag rug, abstract painting, reclaimed wood dining room table, pair of moccasins and a terrarium … if I ever finish one, it’ll be a really good piece of work and my house will be slightly less cluttered with glitter, glue, and sawdust. Thankfully, I have a patient, loving, and supportive husband.