Who We Are: Shelby Lasaine

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Shelby Lasaine, IDS

I’ve enjoyed my time so far in the IDS program, and am looking to graduate in the summer of 2018, when I’ll work on my thesis as the capstone project. My focus in IDS is in Environmental Governance.

My background is in International Studies, and I originally came to DePaul for my BA. My concentration was in the theory of the modern nation-state. I’m continuing study of this by applying and further exploring systems and culture theories, specifically looking at how networks have set a new paradigm for how we in the Western world interact with, manage and govern social and natural environments. A main aspect of this is the availability of information technology, and how the large amounts of data today are understood, used and applied (or not), and how this all can be used to better inform ecological and other managerial practices.

My first conscious encounter with the concept of ‘environment’ as including both social and natural conditions was as an interpreter working with French speaking African refugees, which I did for several years after finishing undergraduate study. Working with individuals and hearing their lived experiences of social and economic mismanagement made what I learned in undergrad—a philosophy of social and environmental interactions as culture and economy—very real.

This experience made me recognize the role of personal narrative, and more broadly experiential knowledge, in finding solutions to environmental problems. I believe that the theoretic framework that I had from undergrad studies offered me a solid contextual reference as an interpreter, and this has made me aware and interested in how data and knowledge of situational context inform and enhance decision making. An interesting piece of the puzzle has come from nursing theory: it has solidified a concept for my thesis on the more general act of resource stewardship as a question of integral health, and how important it is to have multifaceted data and framework to deal with complex ecosystems, whether they are an individual human, a forest ecosystem, a national economy or a global common like the ocean or atmosphere.

Networks, as flows of information and resources, offer many opportunities for more attentive and informed decision making. My goal with this track of study is to conceptualize the complex structure of our Western networked society (including our legal, knowledge, and financial structures) to contribute to the causes of informed decision making, research, and innovation in the 21st century, and more specifically, how this can support good environmental and natural resource management.