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Welcome from Bruce Beck


Dr. M. Bruce Beck
Professor and Eminent Scholar
mbbeck@uga.edu
706-542-0947
706-542-0857 (fax)

Room 4-102
Warnell School of Forest Resources
University of Georgia
Athens GA 30602-2152

 

Welcome!

I cannot tell, of course, how you might have arrived at this website. But let me say something of how it would strike me, had I come upon it from afar — by way of a confession, in fact.

A Confession ...

Three things trouble me.

The first is obvious and perhaps trivial. What I want to say here should be described as "under construction" in this idiom of the website. The other two things troubling me are neither obvious nor trivial.

When asked to give an account of what our program does, I often find that, first, I cannot remember all of it in a succinct manner and, second (just as often), I sense the attention of my questioner tailing away, as I recite a sequence of subject titles — I can discern — of rapidly declining relevance to them.

I am hoping this is in the nature of our program (not any failing on my part). For the program is not easily bounded. It is by no means contained within the University of Georgia or embodied physically in the sum total of the persons and equipment/facilities gathered around me in the confines of the Warnell School of Forest Resources. This is an extensive program (the image comes to mind of the rambling tangles hereabouts in Georgia of kudzu — a riotous vine, in my opinion). I know that the content of the accompanying set of inter-mingling networks, stretching around the globe (and bringing the world, thereby, into my office) may stray well outside your particular interest. That troubles me, and my struggle in composing this website is to make as much of it of interest as possible, given that you have been determined enough to reach this point.

All this, I think, is in the nature of "being inter-disciplinary".

Kuduz eats house

From Chelating Agents to Cultural Theory

The work we do simply cannot be easily pigeon-holed. It cannot be cast, we all know, within the regular mold of a single, focused university departmental structure. I am not even sure it can be articulated entirely within the customary complex of the research-funding agency, the university, and, as appropriate, the concerned industrial/commercial sector. For my agenda of research and instruction, I am finding increasingly that intellectual leadership resides in the thinking of corporate leaders, their entourages of consultants, the directors of international associations, and the like.

In any case, I have organized this website both as an expression of a whole — that is why there is a lot of it — and as a site where you can dip into the mono-disciplinary bit of interest to you, without getting bogged down in the clutter of all the other parts of the whole. Yet, when it comes to our current research projects, I have written and composed these in a "joined-up" way, so that you might be tempted to read on, beyond your own subject.

We need to weave together in a seamless manner the topics of, say, chelating agents and Cultural Theory, so that neither the geochemist nor the anthropologist is troubled by his/her encounter with the other's disciplinary specialism, if this is what the problem at hand demands — as it did in our work on Lake Lanier. Such weaving together requires just one pair of hands, in the end, to achieve a pleasing result. One individual, with rather copious amounts of time, will have to mix the intellectual glue (to change the metaphor), apply it to all the disciplinary parts, and allow curing sufficient for the bond to hold fast.

I believe what I am trying to express here may come to suffuse university life and academic enquiry in the future. If I am wrong about this, for it does seem a bit half-baked, please e-mail us (on yearwood@uga.edu). We are always interested in feedback. Otherwise, just click here ["A Program of Graduate Instruction"] for a continuing dialog on what — for me — constitutes "being inter-disciplinary".

M Bruce Beck