When I learned that we were going to have the opportunity to meet with Gillen D’arcy Wood, I was extremely excited. Throughout my life, volcanos have always fascinated me; growing up, my favorite book was The 21 Balloons, a novel about a man who unexpectedly lands on the island of Krakatoa a mere four days before it exploded. Because of the book, Krakatoa had always fascinated me and I was excited to learn more about Tambora because the global implications that the event had. However, after leaving Wood’s lecture, both in class and during the nighttime seminar, I was surprised that what I had learned about revolutions that week was not about a volcano at all, but rather about the revolutionary way of thinking Wood calls “teleconnections”.
As a senior, I have become nervous about the world that I will be entering in a few short months. I have no formal training in any sort of business expertise, very few hard skills, and very little applicable experience. I also have no idea what I want to do, exactly. In the past, I have come to question my choice in education; Colby, while a wonderful place, lacks practical classes and majors like “Introductory Seminar in Real Estate” (which my brother is taking at Lehigh) and “Supply Chain Management” (which a friend majored in at CU Boulder). To be honest, I don’t even know what the first class would encapsulate or what that second major fully is, but they sound impressive and filled with useful knowledge to build a career off of.
However, Wood’s ideas of “teleconnections” a word that he eloquently uses for what I would describe as “seeing the larger picture”, struck me. For Wood, the teleconnections of Tambora related to migration patterns, ecological impacts, art, and political changes. Traditionally, these events have been analyzed independently of one another, but can all be traced back to the eruption of one volcano in 1815. Throughout both our STS class and the night lecture, he stressed that without looking at these historical events through a broader lens and understanding the different causes and effects of each event, we were failing to build a complete history of the period and thus failing to see how it could affect the future. The revolutionary concept that I learned from this lecture is that to be truly revolutionary, you cannot allow yourself to be pigeonholed to a specific frame of mind.
The idea of teleconnections reassured me. While I might not have the exact knowledge needed to go out and start a property rental business with a major supply chain that needs to be managed tomorrow, I do have the tools to go out and learn how to do that quickly. In the 21st century, a liberal arts education, which is inherently scattered and broad, might be the most revolutionary type because it forces you to learn how to think rather than what to think. So while I learned a little bit about volcanos from Wood, I learned a lot more about life.