Laidlaw: Final Reflections


Through my research project on autonomous heterotopia’s in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Copenhagen, Denmark, I have not only refined my critical and creative thinking skills but also demonstrated various competencies described in the Laidlaw Scholars Attributes Framework.

I exhibited Leadership Abilities, particularly the capacity to lead without formal authority. The nature of the project required me to take charge of various aspects, from conceptualisation to execution, showcasing my ability to convey purpose and build coalitions within the research context. Navigating diverse cultural contexts in Slovenia and Denmark demanded a nuanced understanding of local perspectives, emphasising the importance of connecting with others on a cultural level. It highlights my commitment to learning continually, adapting my approach based on the unique socio-cultural aspects of each location.

In terms of decision-making in complex environments, the project demanded an analytical approach to interpreting data and deriving meaningful results. I demonstrated my capacity to make effective decisions by prioritising tasks, managing time efficiently, and organising data meticulously, thereby displaying project management skills.

The collaborative and team-working aspects of the project were particularly significant. Engaging with diverse perspectives while conducting research and building relationships in different environments strengthened my ability to work collaboratively and across boundaries. This collaboration was not only rooted in intellectual exchange but also showcased my emotional intelligence in fostering positive and productive relationships.

Moreover, my resilience and determination were key to overcoming challenges in understanding diverse cultural contexts. This experience not only contributed to my social and cultural intelligence but also demonstrated my ability to navigate new and foreign situations adeptly. This, in turn, underscored my commitment to making things happen and having a tangible impact in challenging circumstances.

Looking ahead, I am committed to deepening my self-knowledge and awareness by engaging in continuous learning and candidly assessing my knowledge and leadership style. This commitment to self-improvement aligns with my overarching goal of making effective decisions in complex environments, a skill that I believe will be crucial for my future endeavours.

Furthermore, as I aspire to conduct further research in water policy, I am keenly aware of the need to capitalise on the power of diversity and foster innovation. Water policy is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring collaboration across various fields. Strengthening my collaboration and team-working skills will be instrumental in bridging gaps between different stakeholders and transforming research outcomes into actionable policies.

Finally, with a focus on water policy, my aim is to produce work that extends beyond academia and has a tangible impact on the real world. This involves not only conducting rigorous research but also actively seeking opportunities to contribute to policy discussions, engage with relevant stakeholders, and drive positive change in water management practices. I see this as a natural extension of my commitment to resilience and determination in achieving meaningful outcomes in my chosen field of study.

In my initial application to the Laidlaw Scholars program, my concept of leadership was more conventional, focusing on the idea of guiding and leading people toward common goals. I envisioned leadership primarily as a role involving interpersonal skills and the ability to motivate a team. However, as the program unfolded, my understanding of leadership underwent a significant transformation.

Today, leadership, to me, extends beyond the traditional notions of guiding individuals and has evolved into a nuanced appreciation of the essential skillset required. While interpersonal skills remain crucial, my current perspective emphasises the importance of analytical and critical thinking as fundamental components of effective leadership. I now recognise that a leader must possess the ability to dissect intricate concepts, analyse various perspectives, and synthesise innovative ideas.

The Laidlaw Scholars program has played a pivotal role in shaping this perspective. Engaging in rigorous research, particularly in my project on autonomous heterotopia in Slovenia and Denmark, highlighted the need for a multifaceted skillset beyond interpersonal dynamics. The emphasis on critical and creative thinking, resilience, and determination underscored that leadership involves navigating complexities, making informed decisions in challenging environments, and turning abstract ideas into actionable insights, 

This shift in perception aligns with the broader attributes framework of the Laidlaw program, where leadership is demonstrated through intellectual abilities, research and project management skills, and an understanding of cultural contexts. My current view emphasises the importance of being a well-rounded leader, proficient not only in motivating and guiding individuals but also in utilising analytical skills to address complex issues and drive meaningful outcomes. This evolution in understanding leadership reflects a deeper appreciation for the diverse competencies required to lead effectively in today's complex and dynamic environments.

My development as a leader within the Laidlaw Scholars program has been a dynamic process, guided by the attributes framework and reflective of a multifaceted skillset. 

Leadership Abilities: The program provided opportunities for me to lead without formal authority, particularly evident in my research project on autonomous heterotopia. This experience demanded the ability to convey purpose and build coalitions within the research context, showcasing leadership abilities beyond traditional hierarchical structures.

Self-knowledge and Awareness: Engaging in continuous learning and honestly assessing my knowledge and leadership style has been a cornerstone of my development. The program encouraged me to know my limitations and act accordingly, fostering self-awareness crucial for effective leadership.

Effective Communicator: The emphasis on clear and confident communication was evident in both speaking and writing, as well as utilising digital connectivity to disseminate research findings. Learning to listen with understanding further enhanced my communication skills, essential for effective leadership.

Critical and Creative Thinker: The program has significantly contributed to my critical and creative thinking abilities. Turning abstract ideas into actionable insights was demonstrated throughout my research, reflecting the program's emphasis on strong intellectual ability.

Collaboration and Team Working: Engaging with diverse perspectives during the research project strengthened my collaboration and team-working skills. The experience emphasised the importance of emotional intelligence in fostering positive relationships and networks.

Social and Cultural Intelligence and Awareness: The project's focus on autonomous heterotopia required a deep dive into complex socio-cultural aspects, enhancing my social and cultural intelligence. Navigating diverse cultural contexts in Slovenia and Denmark showcased my ability to capitalise on the power of diversity.

Resilience and Determination to Achieve: Overcoming challenges in understanding diverse cultural contexts underscored my resilience and determination. This experience reinforced my commitment to making things happen, particularly in challenging situations.

Research and Project Management Skills: The meticulous attention to detail in the research project strengthened my project management skills. Analysing data, making effective decisions in complex environments, and turning ideas into action were all integral to demonstrating competence in research and project management,

This program has been a game-changer for my research skills, proving immensely useful for my undergraduate dissertation. The emphasis on critical thinking, project management, and decision-making in complex situations has sharpened my ability to conduct independent and robust research. The practical experiences, especially dealing with diverse cultural contexts, have broadened my approach to tackling research challenges.

Beyond the academic realm, being identified as a Laidlaw Scholar has added a significant boost to my professional journey. The recognition has served as a valuable credential, enhancing my applications for internships, master's programs, and other opportunities. It's not just a title; it showcases my commitment to leadership and a diverse skillset. As I progress, I am confident that the program's impact will continue to propel me forward, contributing to my success in both academic pursuits and real-world applications.

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