I’ve been repeating that phrase for days on end… ‘come to meeee; COME to meeeee…’ but my dissertation topic is hiding somewhere in a mental abyss and I’m desperately trying to urge it out. Considering I’m meeting with my dissertation advisor next Thursday, my dissertation question needs to be done. I know I’m not super far behind (since most people are kind of in the same boat), but the fact that this is worth 25% of my degree and is the capstone piece of my MSc doesn’t ease the pressure.
So, I had decided on a topic after much waffling, but still had yet to define a research question. I knew that HIV/AIDS was my main area of interested and also, after taking classes on child poverty and child rights, that pediatric AIDS specifically, could be an interesting area that’s often ignored. But how to make this a question now… I considered looking at the pharmaceutical industry and looking at ARVs for pediatric AIDS patients in South Africa. How can we increase access? Maybe, more specifically, how can we increase access for particular, marginalized groups? My dissertation advisor threw out the idea of using Sen’s entitlements approach (which is often used when discussing food and famine), and applying it in a new way. That sounds cool, I thought. Definitely an idea. Definitely, perhaps, more interesting than looking at it within a human rights framework like every other human being. Now though… oh man. I’ve done research and this still isn’t a question. If it’s a topic, I still don’t know which ‘marginalized group’ to focus on. I’m not in South Africa and I’ve never lived there, so it’s hard for me to make a judgement call that could be totally off.
I had also wanted to integrate foreign aid (my second love) into my dissertation somehow, so I thought that could be a different way to approach the topic. Maybe looking at foreign aid and HIV/AIDS programs. Maybe look at PEPFAR, specifically and look at objectives, goals and the ways in which those goals are translated in Africa’s subcontinent. Still, though… ideas and no question. Quite frankly, I’m not even sure how to go about focusing that at all… it’s just thoughts swirling around my head that won’t seem to match up.
So, after getting thoroughly annoyed with my own incompetence on that front, I spent yesterday evening working on my Arabic — learning the Arabic alphabet and learning how to pronounce words (words, by the way, which I cannot even begin to translate, but that’s step two)… More on my Arabic tomorrow. Back on topic: After waking up this morning and realizing that I have to seriously get my shit together on the dissertation front (and stop learning Arabic at 1A), I had a light bulb moment. Perhaps not a full-on light bulb moment, but it flickered at the very least. CSR and HIV/AIDS. It could still relate to the pharmaceutical aspect of course (with respect to children’s rights and pediatric AIDS), but it looks at the social responsibility of organizations… hmm… could definitely be on to something here. Perhaps even looking at other private organizations… TNCs working in these regions and their responsibility to their employees? But how? How do I narrow this down? Where do I focus it?
This is mainly me thinking out loud and you (whoever ‘you’ are) reading/listening to me thinking out loud. Maybe one of you has ideas for me? Any thoughts are more than welcomed… I know that I want my focus to be on HIV/AIDS and I would like it to be with respect to pediatric AIDS specifically, but I could take it in a number of different directions and, as of now, I’m still open to finding new ways to approach it!
God, are you there? It’s me, Shannon.