Sean Park, class of ’04, returns to BHSc as instructor.
Sean Park’s Journey from Alumni to Instructor
I graduated from the program in 2004 and had a very short flirtation with law school before I dropped out. I needed more time away from school to figure out what I really wanted to do. Del Harnish, who was head of the program at the time, gave me an office and a year to experiment with some new ideas in education. I flourished and found an exciting area of research – complexity science – that shifted my whole worldview. I went to UofT to do a Masters on complexity theory and inquiry-based learning, while simultaneously exploring the arts and contemplative practices like mindfulness as vehicles of transformation. At the time, mindfulness was far from the zeitgeist it is today.
Grad school was tough. I struggled to find folks that resonated with my ideas and questions. I persevered and eventually found a group of academics, artists, and therapists to study with in a doctoral program at Simon Fraser University. My time out West was amazing. My interests in philosophy, education, the arts, group, and therapy converged in a supportive environment and I really grew as a person. I became a writing and research ninja. Following my interests against the hope and grain of becoming an established, secure professional strengthened my spirit and resolve to be true to the questions I was asking.
Reality hit hard after graduating with my PhD in 2014. I struggled for awhile to find scraps of work and defining my place in the job market. I started to figure out how to translate and transfer my skills in research, writing, coaching, leadership development, curriculum design, and the arts to new areas. I do freelance writing and research, teach mindfulness at U of T, manage a fellowship at MaRS in Toronto, and do creativity coaching on the side. In a world in which career paths are much less defined, I now recognize the challenge as one of crafting a unique career out of my many skills and an openness to being shaped by unexpected opportunities. The adventure continues.
HTH SCI 3QA3 Qualitative Research Methods in Health is going to be really exciting. We’ll be exploring the richness of narrative, the complicated intersection of self and culture, the creative and sensuous world of the arts, and the play of language – all in relationship to self, other, health and research. I think the arts and humanities are deep wells of practical knowledge about how to conduct and communicate research. Looking at the world qualitatively is a very different paradigm from the one that privileges empirical objectivity over meaning and experience. Qualitative research places us, the researchers, much more at the centre of the process and creatively complicates the personal, cultural, institutional, linguistic, socio-political, and spiritual dimensions of health. Students will get a chance to dive deep into a methodology and teach it to the class as part of a group, while also working on developing a real research proposal.