Sarah Beckham Hooff '13 (USA)

Sarah Beckham Hooff '13 (USA)

I enjoyed exploring my interest in social issues and community-environment interrelations during MESPOM, and after completing my thesis at the Greek University of the Aegean in 2013, I moved to the far north of Finland. I coordinated interdisciplinary environmental research for the the RISES (Resilience in Socio-Ecological Systems of Northwest Eurasia) project at the University of Lapland Arctic Center in Rovaniemi. RISES integrates anthropological interviews from reindeer herders in Siberia with 'hard' science investigations of historical vegetation cover, so I spent my days tracking reindeer and delightfully spacey academics...

Meanwhile, a thirst for the humanities led me to start working as a literary translator for an international publishing company. Over the summer of 2014, I moved to Dublin, Ireland to translate a Russian fiction novel into English, and I simultaneously balanced work as a script editor and consultant for an international theater project in NYC.

From there, I got more and more involved in film, and began studying Meisner technique acting on a whim. In this artistic craft, I've discovered a style of working and living that I find endlessly enriching. Acting and performance has afforded me new perspectives on my past experiences in the social as well as natural sciences.

Perhaps I've decided to follow a path different from that of many MESPOM-graduates. The value of my MESPOM experience lies mainly in having the freedom to pursue a thesis methodology that was non-traditional. My research focused on subjectivity in communities and was grounded in Q-methodology. For better or for worse, the process of immersing myself in this method and presenting my findings in an academic setting helped me to realize that, like it or not, the study and appreciation of subjectivity is poorly accommodated by academia at best and seen as a methodological trick pony at worst.

While there are many talented academics using Q methodology, they can't come close to matching the numbers or funding resources of those adhering to 'traditional' social and natural science methods. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this 'state of the union,' but I became increasingly sure that engagement with subjectivity was important to me and, I suspected, what the world was really hungering for. So, in the end, I decided to take the leap outside of academia into literature, film, and theater.

That might not be the cleanest of clean-cut stories, but MESPOM, and especially my vastly different but equally enjoyable experiences in Lund and Mytilini, were invaluable in helping me define my personal, professional, and bureaucratic priorities.

I currently divide my time between Dublin, Ireland and the USA and continue to enjoy work as a consultant for scientific and artistic projects. More info, links, and contact info can be found on my website: www.sarahbeckhamhooff.com

More info, links, and contact info can be found at: www.sarahbeckhamhooff.com

Photo credit to Patrick Bridgeman photography, Dublin