Getting down with my epistemological self.

Conversations with my Future Self – Reflections of my MALAT Experiences

Unit 1, Cultures of Inquiry, Pre-Residency, July 14

I moan, I complain, and I twist myself into knots – But between you and me, I don’t think I would have it any other way.  Either by fate or by design, life leading up to my two week residency at Royal Roads is overflowing with work, life, and school projects come due.

In amongst all of life’s general cacophony lies both my introductory reading, and first assignment for my introduction to research course, the first unit of study consisting of reflections on cultures of inquiry.  According to Bentz and Shapiro (1998) “a culture of inquiry is a chosen modality of working within a field, an applied epistemology or working model of knowledge used in explaining or understanding reality.”.

If you are too shy to ask, according to the Oxford dictionary, epistemology is “the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope.  Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.”  But being my future self, when you read this, you should already be intimately aware of what epistemology is, and several different cultures of inquiry for that matter.

My assignment for unit 1 was to create a mind map or infographic representing my selection of three cultures of inquiry, two that resonated with me, and 1 that was new or different.  I chose to try my hand at an info-graphic and chose phenomenology and ethnography as my personal interest selections, and action research as something new to me.

Ok, so phenomenology and ethnography spoke quite strongly to me because of my experiences at work. Marine industry folks have an incredibly tight knit communities, and I know of some pretty big projects run for them (thrown at them?) that failed. Reading into phenomenology and ethnography spoke strongly to me as to why they failed, and it encouraged me to critically reflect on how projects could be shaped in the future.  Low and behold, as I moved to action research, it read as a manual on how to do exactly that.

To boil it all down, I believe that adopting the methodologies of these traditions will not only help my future research, but everyday project planning and execution.  Not bad for a few weeks of pre-reading.

All this, and I haven’t even got to campus yet.  It’s going to be a pretty interesting 27 months.

Signing off,

Colin Craig, tired, cranky, but caught up with work projects.



Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful inquiry in social research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

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The Relationship Economy – A Lingering Trust Issue?


Conversations with my Future Self – Reflections of my MALAT Experiences

Post Residency, August 8 2016

The Relationship Economy – A Lingering Trust Issue?

A fascinating blog, REX, posts about the relationship economy.  Now, in my previous blog I shared how my perceptions on blogging had been jaded by the greedy click baiters of the world.  I also shared how academic blogging has begun to re-engage me on the power of blogging, and point to the powers of less formal interdisciplinary discussion.  Jerry, from REX, blogs that “Smart companies are building authentic relationships with their customers, no longer treating them as consumers. Smart governments are figuring out how to trust their citizens by opening their data and their budgeting processes, among other ways” (Jerry, 2010). He also mentions that the not-so-smart companies are still resorting to the old methods of exploiting big data to manipulate consumers.

This has me considering the world of open research, and how very similar it relates to Jerry’s perception of what smart organizations are doing.  Instead of hording knowledge, smart organizations are sharing it, engaging its customer base by asking them to use it, and make it better.  Is there a model out there where universities, journals, and research holders can share all the primary research they have collected?  What does that model look like, and like it or hate it, how can they make money and continue to generate primary research if they adopt an open model?  Can a ‘click bait’ model be applied to users of primary research, when they produce products that are sold on markets?

Hmmm… suddenly click bait doesn’t seem so evil after all.


Jerry. (2010, June 4). What is the relationship economy? Retrieved from

Cover Image retrieved from:

How do I situate myself in research?

Conversations with my Future Self – Reflections of my MALAT Experiences

Unit 2, Cultures of Inquiry, Residency, End of Week 1 (July 22)

Situating Your Research

My first week of residency has brought a whole new dimension of understanding to several different research traditions I had reviewed during pre-residency. Interacting with my classmates and listening to their own perspectives of the research traditions found in Bentz & Shapiro (1998) has helped me expand on some of my original perspectives, while clarifying others.

Action research caught my attention during pre-residency reading as something I could most relate to.  According to Bentz & Shapiro, action research’s intention “is to influence or change a system, and the values are those of participation, self-determination, empowerment through knowledge, and change.” (p. 127)  Working with adults in corporate training, my primary motivator, what really keeps me going, is knowing that I am participating in something that can support real change with the people I am instructing, change in how they approach their life and/or work. Success in what I instruct relies heavily on participants in my class identifying how what they are learning will empower them personally or professionally.

As I look further into the aspects of an action researcher, I recognize personality traits in myself that are reflected on in Bentz & Shapiro (1998), “’action research calls for a person who is action oriented, who is not simply satisfied with understanding, explaining, or predicting something, but also willing and wanting to do something about it” (p. 129).  I am highly motivated when I am challenged to implement training that will change how people work, and am eager to involve not only leadership but front line staff in the development and testing of materials I produce.  I challenge the front line worker to critique and improve on procedures created by leadership, and challenge leadership to integrate front line workers in projects they run.

If action research were the force, I’d surely be a Jedi.

In contrast, critical social theory had me stumped when I first read it.  Not because I didn’t understand its tenants, and how it was described, but because I couldn’t fathom the motivations behind researchers who follow this tradition. How could someone dedicate most, if not all of their lives, to researching something that might not be seen implemented in the span of their life, or even their children’s lives?  Conversation with my scholarly colleagues has helped me correlate this research tradition to social theories that have helped shaped societies (Marxism), and I am eager to look into this more.

Signing off,

Padawan learner, Jedi action research apprentice, Colin



Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful inquiry in social research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Cover Image retrieved from:




Academic and Business Blogging – A Trust Issue

Conversations with my Future Self – Reflections of my MALAT Experiences

Cultures of Inquiry, Residency, July 26

Blogging – A Trust Issue

To my future self: What do you think of blogging now?  Currently, the idea of blogging evokes a sense of mistrust, of partisan perspectives, and biased information.  At this point in my life, blogs are synonymous with click bait, the art of drawing you in with the hopes of trapping you in inane sites that force you to click between paragraphs pages with the intent of increasing advertisement revenue for every new page you visit.

A dark view of a simple tool.  Blogging has been carving a place for itself in the academic world for a while now, and the more I think about blogging through an academic lens, the more my views are changing.

Stripping away the commercial trap or academic lens and I ask myself, what is a blog?  According to Wikipedia “A blog is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first)  (CITATION).  Once boiled down to its base form, I am much less repulsed with blogging in general.

While enriching myself on this tool, I happened on a powerful observation in the second chapter of Asselin’s (2008) dissertation, where she identifies the interdisciplinary nature of blogging.  This observation opens up a perspective that I had not considered; how can members of different scholarly communities of practice engage in idea and concept sharing in less formal environments?  Blogging is an excellent way for professionals to share ideas that do not have to be completely 100% nailed down, researched, or peer reviewed.  This makes it an effective forum for students and instructors in academia to craft and refine perspectives, in whatever structured environment they agree on.  Expanding on that, I take Asselin’s statement as supporting blogs as a way to bridge together communities of practice, and I see them as being a foundational tool for creating relationships between like minded professionals of different areas of study.

So future Colin, I challenge you this:  By the time you come back to these reflections, you will have opened up your own academic blog to the public, and engaged in at least one interdisciplinary academic conversation.



Asselin, K. (2008). Blogging: The remediation of academic and business communications (Order No. 1452706). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (304449817). Retrieved from

Blog. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 26, 2016, from

Cover image retrieved on July 26, 2016, from:


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