Category Archives: Professional Development

” … to put simply, I am lost” : the reality of “unreal” world


” Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.” – Steve Jobs, 6/12/2005

This week, I completed my first sessions working with a total of 51 undergraduate students; out of 275 or so total students  enrolled in the course .  In short, the course is to address students’ anxieties about the “real world” so they can strategize their college years.  The INTER-LS 210 2nd Yr Career Course “Taking Initiative” largely builds on the idea of liberal arts education that encourages students to think creatively about themselves, and eventually about the environment they belong to.

Rightly so, reading my students initial reflective writing, which is one of the assignments in this course, I have learned overwhelming  number of students experiencing fear about the “real world.”  One student wrote, “I have never understood how the real world works.”  This leads me to think, are we (students) now in an unreal world?   This post is my elaboration on the question. Continue reading ” … to put simply, I am lost” : the reality of “unreal” world

Why reciprocity is not as simple as it seems?

Reciprocity, just like many other terms such as equality, justice, participation, have become a rhetoric where we are often stuck with the talk rather than the walk. Because, in each of these terms, it involves at least two completely difference universe.

Let’s talk about it in the context of community-academic partnerships, and I would use a very specific case when people have differing opinions  leading to arguments. A phrase I was told says that “an argument is a moment of a productive conversation.” In this case, at least I would try to explain that the idea of reciprocity means almost nothing. This is because academics and community members are in two very different social constructions when committing to argumentative conversations.

Continue reading Why reciprocity is not as simple as it seems?

Writing a reporting article


One of the skills that I would like to promote for academics is the ability to write a popular article, reporting their activities while they are working with grassroots communities.  I do realize that most of my work will not be “sexy” enough for a reporter to write.  So instead of waiting for their report, I would just write my own and circulate through social media.

My most recent reporting article “South Madison farmer fights food injustice with Ex-Cons” has gotten attention.   Both Anthony Cooper and Robert Pierce were approached by the Capital Times after reading this article.  It certainly helped amplify the mission of the project, and reach out broader community about the food justice movement in South Madison.

Update Aug 10 – read the article at

Dissertation Research Abstract [2]


You might wonder what has happened with the Dissertation Research Abstract [1].  I used to think that I would like to do a community-based research (CBR) on transportation.  What I have learned from my recent CBR project with The Natural Step Monona was that transportation is not on their top priority list.  As a result, there is no strong basis for conducting CBR in transportation because transportation is not a pressing issue for Monona residents and therefore there is no immediate needs in addressing it.

Another learning point from this is that when a researcher wants to conduct a CBR, a topic becomes secondary.  CBR is a methodology that aims to address whatever we learn from the needs assessment process.  Community will identify a set of local community issues and then rank them to see what is the most important for them to asnwer.  This can be anything from a chicken in someone’s backyard to as complex as Wisconsin’s collective bargaining issue. It is imperative that CBR follows community’s interests.

Continue reading Dissertation Research Abstract [2]

From Transportation to Service Learning


Starting next week, I am going to take a new position with the Morgridge Center for Public Service.  This is just another graduate assistanship position, nothing fancy.  But it helps me keep my student status and have my qualiying exam and prelim this semester.  I will be a Teaching Assistant (Engaged Scholarship Fellow) for their program to teach/train TAs and junior faculties at the UW-Madison about service learning.

Continue reading From Transportation to Service Learning

Another book about how to write


I know, you might question me if I want to really write, why I keep reading books about writing. Should I just better sit and write than read books about how to write? Anyway, writing is not just about writing. You will learn more that writing is also about preparing yourself to write. Not convinced? Trust me, I don’t blame you. How about this, it is how to prepare yourself so that you can allocate a time to write rather than to find a time or to wait until you feel like you want to write.

Please enjoy this highly informative book “How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic.”


Dissertation Research Abstract [1]


What can we learn from existing travel behavior data [a] about automobile use in Monona Wisconsin? How has the idea of automobile use been constructed by residents of Monona? How has community knowledge on health been a part of the consideration on automobile use? In what ways might the current transportation system in Monona have suffered certain social groups in Monona? The intensity of automobile use has long been recognized as a primary cause of the current unsustainable transportation system. Yet a considerable number of individuals have continued to travel with their private cars and some social groups have continued to be marginalized due to inadequate transportation infrastructures. This dilemma suggests that sustainable transportation has a complex set of problems and requires a robust approach of research in order to understand the complexities of the problems and offer potential solutions to these problems.

Continue reading Dissertation Research Abstract [1]