Redundant question not wasted

Posted on February 16, 2009

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ewaste I’ve been interviewed a few times in the past weeks (Beeby Fellow, ODT).   I’ve been surprised by the first question asked by every journalist: 

you’re in computing – that’s not sustainability, how come you’re writing a book about teaching sustainability? 

My answer  “oh I used to be a botanist/geographer” has satisfied the journalists, but has had me increasingly thinking.   The interchange has coalesced a significant principle of the book.   If I was a botanist, the journalists wouldn’t have asked that question (and I wouldn’t have had such a ready answer!).   I should have said something like:

that’s a good question but my hope is that in a few years you wouldn’t ask it.  Sustainability is something that affects all of us, in every discipline, no less a computer scientist than a botanist, no less a nurse than a geographer

Clearly this answer needs some more thought but the redundant question has helped me a lot.   Perhaps spending time with experienced journalists with critical and enquiring minds should be a requirement for everyone who’s just setting out to write a book.  Perhaps their need to make stories accessible and engaging for everyone is a really good way out of a sheltered academic existence – even if the questions (and answers)  seem naive.

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