REGENERATIVE SELF-CARE PRIMARY RESEARCH

Image by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

In revisiting my literature review, nearly a year after writing it, in light of personal hardships and the global COVID 19 pandemic, I find myself magnetically drawn to the nearly hidden concept of self-development through self-care that is a common but ironically underdeveloped thread in regenerative design theories and methodology. As I created the Regenerative Nest, I included these ideas, but not as a foundational part of the Nest, merely as a side-note under cooperation. Understandably, in the highly altruistic focused fields of social and environmental sustainability, we put self-care and developments to the side. The ever growing urgency of the causes we dedicate our time, our careers, and our lives to certainly demand that we act now and think of ourselves later. Or is it that in acting too quickly, carrying our burdens alone, and neglecting ourselves, that we are continuing the very systems and processes we so desperately want to dissolve?

As I develop my primary research methodology, I have a vision that the Regenerative Nest can be an educational framework, likely presented in the form of a thoughtful, interactive card deck (both in print and digitally). (See a preliminary sketch of the card deck below and how it could focus on each ring of the nest with different activities and potentially through a game.) Yet, for my thesis design project, I understand my limitations of time and the need for additional development of all aspects of the model with expert feedback. Therefore, my current plan is to focus my research and design project development on one seemingly small, but timely aspect of the Nest—what I am calling—Regenerative Self-Care. 

Preliminary sketch of the Regenerative Nest educational tool/game

The focus of my primary research is: How might Regenerative Self-Care into regenerative design through regenerative higher education help further ‘sustainability competencies’ (Wiek et al., 2011)? First, to gather information I the current state of self-care in sustainability fields, I will conduct a survey with recent graduates of higher education sustainability program graduates (across universities and disciplines, such as in science, design, and the social sciences). I will combine this primary research with the findings of some secondary articles, such as those on professional self-development by authors Brundiers and Wiek (2017) who has studied and championed higher education sustainability competencies for many years. Then, I plan to strategically and intentionally incorporating Regenerative Self-Care into the Regenerative Nest (see preliminary sketches below), and prototype a workshop with undergraduate students. The workshop will gauge their current understanding of self-care as well as expose them to the Regenerative Nest framework and a digital version of the tool (as all studies will be conducted virtually due to pandemic safety concerns). 

Option 1 for expressing the role of self-development and care
Option 2 for expressing the role of self-development and care

I anticipate that the data collected will help provide a baseline for understanding the potential effects that a focus on Regenerative Self-Care can bring. Moreover, the pre-test for the Regenerative Nest prototyping session will help control for prior knowledge. However, there will not be sufficient time and resources for a longitudinal study that would provide more concrete evidence of potential effects. It will also be challenging to control variables, such as differentiating between the effects of the Regenerative Nest as a whole versus the Regenerative Self-Care portion of the model. Nevertheless, the data will help show if the Regenerative Nest is worth further development and study as a tool for Regenerative Higher Education and furthering the development of the ‘sustainability competencies’ (Wiek et al., 2011) in higher education.

In the coming week or so, I will be researching previous studies for assessing self-care practices and tailoring the methodology to the theories around Regenerative Self-Care as described by existing literature. I will also begin designing the Regenerative Nest tool and recruiting for and planning a prototyping session.

Works Cited

Brundiers, K., & Wiek, A. (2017). Beyond Interpersonal Competence: Teaching and Learning Professional Skills in Sustainability. Education Sciences, 7(1), 39. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci7010039

Wiek, A., Withycombe, L., & Redman, C. (2011). Key competencies in sustainability: A reference framework for academic program development. Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science, 53(6), 203–218. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-011-0132-6

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