Rachael Cadman

PhD candidate, Interdisciplinary Studies, Dalhousie University

Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Contemporary Studies and Classics, 2013

Whatever the magic mix of King’s is or does, it makes you more successful in whatever path you end up taking

Working in fisheries governance in Labrador may seem like a world away from studying Contemporary Studies and Classics at King’s – however, for Rachael, it was fairly logical progression.

Rachael’s goals as an undergraduate at King’s were simple; to be a well-read person and to study the things she was passionate about. After taking the Foundation Year Program (FYP), Rachael went into the Contemporary Studies Program, a decision based on her goals, interests and advice from her professors at the time.

“I’ve always loved reading and just the opportunity to read all the modern classics and have a deep understanding of that was probably my motivation for it… my professors and mentors as well influenced my decision about which program to go into.”

Rachael felt supported by the community at King’s by her peers and professors alike. Working in the Wardroom for three of her undergraduate years was a sure way to find herself right at the heart of life at King’s. “I felt very close to a lot of people at King’s,” Rachael says, “it helped doing things like working at the wardroom because you see everybody’s faces constantly.” And Rachael finds herself in the midst of the community even today, serving on the Alumni Association Executive.

After graduating from King’s, Rachael decided to pursue an interest that she has had ever since she was a child; the environment. “My dad is an ornithologist so I was always outdoors as a kid, did a lot of conservation jobs as a teenager,” she explains. She went on to complete her Master’s in Resource and Environmental Management at Dalhousie and after gaining some further research experience, enrolled again, this time as a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies.

“I thought it was going to be less connected to the things I’d learnt before than it ended up being. I thought I was getting into something that was totally different from what I’d done at King’s… I was really surprised by how much the skills and knowledge that I’d learned from my first degree ended up driving the topics that I was interested in.”

Rachael is specifically interested in how people value the environment, and how people decide which information influences policy decisions. She found her knowledge base from King’s to be extremely useful when encountering wicked problems and addressing factors that influence decision-making processes, such as culture and language.

Even now, working to empower Indigenous voices in fisheries governance, Rachael goes back to her skillset and approach to decision-making that was built at King’s. “Those same questions still apply – how we can create systems for making decisions or how we create governance systems that are cross-cultural, that allow for different knowledge systems, different cultures.”

While Rachael’s grounding is always in the theoretical side, she continues to learn and expand her skillset by working with partners who primarily seek practical solutions. That is the beauty of interdisciplinary study.

“Whatever the magic mix of King’s is or does, it makes you more successful in whatever path you end up taking… all of those critical thinking skills and just having four years to think very deeply about things – that is always going to benefit you.”

Date Posted: December 2020