Jonathan Favero

What can we do in a summer? Well, as graduate students in this university we’re conditioned to accomplish quite a lot in very short flurries of activity. This conditioning, or training rather, is graciously given to us by the quarter system that UC Davis uses as its academic calendar. Within this framework we manage to absorb at least the foundations of, if not the full breadth of, and/or specific perspectives of a given topic, by engaging in discussions, readings, and our own writings related to the subject, and/or creating some sort of overarching project that exemplifies our understanding of the materials we’re studying, all in the tiny timeframe of ten weeks. But, we fully understand these quarters are simply small intervals within a larger progression; one which seemingly charts a clear path to a doctorate, or terminal degree of some sort, in our respective fields over the course of a handful of quarters that make-up five to eight years, or so (but who’s counting?).

Obviously the tasks we are taking on this summer possess drastically different stakes. But, we can take the brutal pace of an academic quarter, I mean the benefits of negotiating its brevity, into our summer projects, so that we will be able to (bear with me now, I know this is going to sound utterly corny) efficiently maximize our experiences with our community partners. While our summer projects clearly seem short, bounded by just two months, there is actually no clear beginning—I mean, this moment may serve as an entry point into specific communities, or realms of thought and being, for some of us, but all of us have at least taken a first step into the pool of public scholarship by applying to, and participating in this program with the DHI, and something in us, or our experiences propagated that action as well. Moreover, some folks in the program are already well-rooted in a particular community, where they are fully engaged in serving that community’s needs. Furthermore, there will likely be no end to the type of work we will be doing, in very general terms at least, meaning community engagement, or public service, or however you’d like to frame it. What I mean is, I imagine most of us are looking at our two month summer project as a small interval within a much bigger undertaking, (an approach that’s not unlike our academic work).

Surely, it goes without saying (although, I’m saying it anyway), that none of us can totally predict what we will encounter, or which directions our experiences this summer will take us; the only thing we should expect is that we will inevitably confront the unexpected. Again, like the track we take as academics—one that speciously has a clear beginning and end—the starting-point of our public scholarship may not be easy to identify, and as I just stated the outcome definitely lacks certainty; so what is two months within this context? How will we negotiate its terms, or quantify its significance? Who knows. Ultimately, our training, academic or otherwise, has us well prepared to dive head-first into the depths of chance this summer, and make the best of our partnerships and the outcomes they will bring.