This month we are featuring UBC Philosophy Professor Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins. Carrie recently wrote a Globe and Mail article on ‘What’s love got to do with Sex-Ed? Maybe everything’– and is currently working on a book on the nature of romantic love. If that is not enough to grab your attention then maybe hearing about her philosophy rock band will! Interested? Read on.
Thriving Faculty exemplify the integration of health and wellbeing into classrooms, research, departments and communities.
What are the central challenges that you face in your role as Faculty?
Teaching is very challenging for me, because it comes with so much responsibility. I know that how good a job I do as teacher impacts other people, in potentially huge ways. Being aware of this often means I find it hard to set boundaries on my time when it comes to teaching: what if putting in more hours makes all the difference to one student? This problem hits even harder when I’m teaching large classes, and/or multiple classes at once. I’m also quite an introvert. Face-to-face interaction is generally exhausting for me. A three-hour class can leave me feeling like I’m about to melt into a puddle.
What strategies do you use in your own life that help you thrive as Faculty?
Evening yoga practice helps me calm down; it serves as a kind of physical and mental release valve. My dog takes me outside for daily walks, which are a good idea if you have to spend most of your working day at a computer or reading books. Talking with my husband (who is also a professor) helps me be more reflective about balancing my time and responsibilities. Agreeing to DO ALL THE THINGS can sometimes be the default setting for me, so I need reminders that I’m actually not doing anyone any favours when I agree to take on more tasks than I can complete to a good standard. (I’m working on internalizing this moral, but in the meantime it helps to have an external source of reminders.) My latest work hack is “prioritizing my priorities”. I know it sounds obvious, but until I started thinking about it in those terms I wasn’t doing it. For example, this summer my priority is to finish a draft of my new book about love. Every morning, I spend my first working hour on the book. It’s very rare that I have a day in which I can’t spare one hour for writing. But until I thought about it in these terms, I was just trying to “fit it in” when I could, which invariably meant that I’d try to get everything else out of the way first. But there’s a never-ending stream of everything else! That approach wasn’t working. As soon as I started putting my priority first in this very literal sense, I started making progress on it at a much faster rate. It’s also meant that I can spend the rest of the day on other things without feeling constantly frustrated about the progress I’m not making on the book.
In your role as faculty, please describe your experience balancing work-life commitments? Is there a metaphor that depicts this relationship?
I guess it’s a work in progress, although I’m not sure what would count as being finished. The UBC campus would be a good metaphor.
Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Philosophy at UBC. She is one of the three principal editors of Thought: A Journal Of Philosophy, winner of the 2015 PROSE award for Best New Social Sciences and Humanities Journal. Carrie did her BA, MPhil, and PhD at Trinity College, Cambridge, and since then has worked at Universities in the UK, the US, Australia, and Canada. Her latest research is on the nature of romantic love. Her book What Love Is And What It Could Be is scheduled to appear in 2016 with Basic Books. Carrie is a member of the Philosophy rock group The 21st Century Monads; you can listen to their music at: http://the21stcenturymonads.net. Find out more about Carrie’s work at http://www.carriejenkins.net or follow her on Twitter: @carriejenkins.