Lukie Crowley (LC): To start it off, what is your topic?
Jordyn McLuen (JM): I did a policy theory paper on apple production in Washington State and how it’s impacted by potentially the implementation of a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system.
LC: Why did you choose (topic)?
JM: I have always found environmental issues interesting, so I knew that I would like to do something related to climate change and try to apply a macro topic in climate change policy into a micro area in terms of Washington State apple production being one relatively small market.
LC: Was there a lot of research done on it before?
JM: It is newer research I would say. The way I talk to Kate Stirling about it is connecting dots that haven’t been connected before since I’m not doing an empirical paper. So, I’m trying to connect ideas that have not been applied to each other before. In that way I use analysis to create something new to add to the literature because that is one of the primary goals of the thesis.
LC: What were your findings/were you happy with them?
JM: What I found is that [in the apple production] you’re in trouble either way because if you’re minimizing carbon emissions then you are going to have a tradeoff. Specifically in Washington they’re worried about using more water. Because of climate change we have water shortages in in eastern Washington because it is so dry already and irrigation practices already use 70% of fresh water so using more water is a terrible option but that’s what they would have to do if the reduced carbon emissions. So until there is some groundbreaking technology, reducing carbon emissions probably wouldn’t be helping the environment that much.
LC: Was it as time consuming as you thought it would be?
JM: Yes and no. In terms of start to finish and how long it took me to finish, yes. Since I’m not doing an empirical thesis I didn’t have to go out and collect data I was usually conducting phone interviews which was very helpful. I was lucky to have a connection in the industry so I got phone interviews with two of the heads of the biggest Washington State apple growing companies which was really beneficial and they helped put data together for me that I could analyze in terms of where costs incurred in the production process. I also talked to a professor, Dr. Granatstein and he actually wrote a paper that I had cited in my early work with my thesis and it was really really cool to get talk to him. He’s super knowledgeable and he gave me a couple of case studies that he had looked at. Just talking to him was a great experience. That was probably the most time consuming part, just scheduling and getting into contact with those people. They gave me many resources that were so helpful. As far as breaking the process up into chunks, it’s really overwhelming to look at and say “I have to write my thesis” so I broke it up into chunks and that is one of those things that Kate [Stirling] advised me to do and was really helpful. She allowed me to think about it as breaking it up into three papers and weaving them together in a meaningful way. I looked at doing that big chunk which is the middle portion of the paper and then working outward from there. After doing that, it allowed me to find conclusions and implications. Then based on of all of my resources I used I kind of went back and wrote my introduction and literature review.
LC: Do you have any advice for anyone writing a thesis in the future?
JM: I think setting benchmarks for yourself is very important because otherwise you might end up very overwhelmed at the end. The other thing is to make sure you pick a topic that is unique but you are passionate about because that makes the work so much easier. Otherwise it becomes just a huge amount of work.