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July 28, 2018

ISQOLS Conference 2018: Making Connections


ISQOLS Conference 2018: Making Connections
Author: Chelsea Maupin
July 25, 2018







I am fortunate to know Dean Rhonda Phillips, PhD through the Honors College at Purdue University. Coursework I took which focused on sustainability led me to explore and questions what “sustainability” really means. Community’s cooperation and collective wellbeing, not solely economic indicators, is certainly a component of long-term success and happiness of communities. Realizing that Dean Phillips is a great resource on these topics and many others (e.g. agriculture, urban planning, quality-of-life studies, community development, and the list goes on), I set up a meeting to hear about her career. As one who connects the right people to the right resources, Dean Phillips invited me to be a part of the joint grant initiative of “Community Wellbeing and Community Development: Connection Across Organizations and Interests”, which I presented with Dr. Craig Talmage and Dr. Kai Ludwigs at the 2018 ISQOLS conference in Hong Kong (thanks also goes to ISQOLS Director Jill Johnson). In short, the grant seeks to increase collaboration and shared memberships between ISQOLS and the Community Development Society. I saw the practical overlap of the two scholarly groups as I conducted my senior research project looking at quality of life benefits within GrowLocal Urban Garden Network, a community development project based in community gardens spaces in Lafayette, Indiana.

I’m an avid traveler and lover of food and culture. Visiting Manila added to my international experience and understanding. We weren’t solely visitors to Manila; we were guests hosted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) and their wonderful researchers and staff. That same morning, ABS News published one

of SWS’s statistics that the majority of Filipinos are satisfied with democracy, but that the statistic had dropped two percentage points since the year before in June 2017.

An introduction to SWS’s important quality of life and polling statistics research was paired with delicious Filipino food, and later included a tour of the city. Thankfully, SWS had enough umbrellas to keep us dry, as monsoon season had started the previous week. Our hosts were also our resources, answering questions about quality of life and wellbeing research in the Philippines while sharing their culture.


One great set of hosts transferred to the next as we traveled to Hong Kong for the conference at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Roughly two hours on the plane led to a change of scenery, culture, food, and pace of life. I landed hungry and exhausted. A plan to find a quick bakery bite to bring back to my hotel turned into sitting at a shared table in a crowded noodle restaurant for one of the best meals I remember: piping hot noodles with tofu and pork wrapped in bean curd. Simple and delicious. The good eats continued into the conference to fuel thoughts and discussion and the international teams networked and shared resources. All sessions I attended offered new insights, through focusing on different areas of quality of life research. My first experience meeting face-to-face with my co-presenter Dr. Talmage was during a ride up the Peak Tram in Hong Kong, an old rail car which rides to the top of Victoria Peak for an amazing view over the harbor—I went again to see the view during daylight. Exploring a new city together: there’s little I can think of as a better way to get to know one’s colleagues, and to make friends.

There are a lot of opportunities for inspiration for one’s own research at the conference. For example, I hope to work with farmers and communities internationally as a career, and I’m especially interested in urban agriculture and quality of life. I heard about Dr. Frances Kam Yuet Wong’s research “The Impact of Green Space and Neighborhood Environment on the Quality of Life of Residents in Hung Hom, Hong Kong.” Access to green space and improved wellbeing resurfaced in my life just this week through an NPR article “Replacing Vacant Lots with Green Spaces Can Ease Depression in Urban Communities,” highlighting research published by South et al. in the Journal of the American Medical Association. I heard also from Samra Abdić‘s presentation “Will Healthy Eating Make You Less Happy? A Review of the Literature on the Effect of Food on Happiness.” Dr. Alex C. Michalos mentioned at the end of his keynote presentation that he would like to see more food and quality of life research represented at the conference. That excites me. I can see myself coming back to do a solo-presentation of my own research in the future! ISQOLS represents research globally, and the group has space to add more interests and topics to the conference as understanding of wellbeing expands.

It was wonderful to see such diversity represented by this body of scholars and researcher, all of whom strive to increasing understanding of how to help others to lead the best lives possible. Being a part of the ISQOLS conference and pre-conference trip has hugely expanded my resources and experience to contribute to the many fields which work to enhance quality of life worldwide. I am grateful to have been invited into this community of scholars.


Special thanks to those who made this opportunity possible – Rhonda Phillips, Jill Johnson, Craig Talmage, Kai Ludwigs, Social Weather Stations, PolyU, Purdue Undergraduate Research office and grants, and folks through the University of Kentucky’s Community Innovation Lab.


Short Bio:

Chelsea Maupin is an alumnus from Purdue University with a BSc in Horticulture: Sustainable Food and Farming Systems and a minor in International Studies in Agriculture. Her immediate post-graduate employment is through a Fulbright grant to teach English in Vietnam for one school year. She will return to the U.S. to continue her education through graduate school, or through internships or apprenticeships to gain more hands-on farming skills. She plans to study, and later hold a career in, International Agriculture Development.


Chelsea was the recipient of the Community Development Society (https://www.comm-dev.org/) Innovative Community Engagement Grant, as part of a joint project with ISQOLS. Click here to learn more about this project

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