From fairly early on, the alternative outcome track has been on my mind. I’m a very visual person who likes tangible results, and an alternative outcome always seemed like it could fulfill those criteria more than a thesis could — that’s one reason I decided to forego an honors thesis. Although a traditional thesis fits certain research very well and is more standardized and recognized in academia, it’s also just that — standardized. There’s less room for it to stand out and be something different and exciting. Additionally, I’m not really sure who would want to read a fifty page thesis besides my professor, my mom, and possibly a grad school admissions officer.
At the same time though, writing a thesis has crossed my mind a few times as an attractive straight-forward (not necessarily easy) option that would garner immediate respect and recognition just from its name. People aren’t really sure what an alternative outcome is (including me), and it doesn’t really have a fancy academic name to lend it any more legitimacy. My reservations surrounding an alternative outcome are basically just insecurities that I won’t be able to think of and execute something that is meaningful and useful. I suppose I should just use this as motivation to start early and explore as many options for an alternative outcome as possible until I stumble across something that I’m really passionate about. I also think that my research is particularly well-suited to an alternative outcome of some sort because it’s situated in Portland and can be applied to community level disaster preparedness, which is a hot topic in Portland right now with the impending Cascadia megathrust earthquake.
I think at this early stage I’m still a bit unclear about the parameters of an alternative outcome, possibly because there aren’t many parameters in place yet since this is only the second year it’s been an option. Preliminarily, some options could include an outcome that includes or suggests some app edits to Nextdoor to improve its third space capabilities or disaster preparedness functions. I could also see writing a recommendation to Portland Bureau of Emergency Management since currently they suggest knowing neighbors by knocking on their doors. I want to make sure it’s “big” enough to make a difference, but I’m not sure how big it can really get in three months. Basically, I’m excited about all the possibilities an alternative outcome poses, but I think an immediate meeting with Liz is needed to talk through my options.