Miranda Burrage-Goodwin is originally from Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a BA in history, and minors in anthropology and women, gender, and sexuality studies. Her senior seminar work on chemical warfare in the Vietnam War has been published in the UMass History Journal. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in a semester at sea program with the Sea Education Association (SEA) called Historic Seaports of Western Europe, which inspired her to pursue a degree in maritime history at MUN. In her free time, Miranda enjoys listening to music and being near the water.
How and why did you decide to attend Memorial for your graduate degree?
During my program with SEA, we studied the development of several European fisheries, many of which owed their successful development to the Grand Banks fishery off Newfoundland. I had no idea how central Newfoundland was to the maritime history of the Atlantic, and it inspired me to investigate what else Newfoundland had to offer. When I reached out to some faculty in the history department about potentially completing a graduate degree at Memorial, everyone I spoke with was wonderful and incredibly helpful, and I knew that I wanted to study here.
What drew you to explore history originally?
I’ve always been drawn to the way history feels like storytelling. We look to the past to inform our future. I had a fantastic teacher in grade nine who taught us to think critically about the way individual perception can change the way history is interpreted, and that it is the responsibility of the historian to be thorough in their analysis of a past that no longer exists. I was instantly more enamored of history when I viewed the subject in this way.
Can you tell us a bit about your current projects?
I have always been interested in maritime history, particularly the history of the whaling industry. I am currently working on a project dealing with the decline of the modern whaling industry and subsequent rise of the whale tourism industry in the 20th century. I am looking at the end of the sperm whale industry in the Azores, which came to a close when Portugal joined the European Union in 1986. Very quickly, the Azores transitioned economically from whale hunting to whale watching, and is now one of the most popular ecotourist destinations in the world. Whaling was a huge part of the Azorean identity, and I am hoping to discern what ideological shifts took place to implement this transition, as well as the impact of tourism on local communities.
A supervisor can be key to the success of any grad student. What does your supervisor bring to their role as your advisor and mentor?
My supervisor, Dr. John Sandlos, has been a wonderful support system for me here at Memorial. He is enormously knowledgeable about the field of environmental history, and is always available to recommend a source or speak collaboratively with me about my project. I feel very lucky to have him as an advisor.
Are you involved in any organizations on-campus or off? If so, can you explain and detail such involvement?
I have a research assistantship position which has kept me busy working on projects with faculty in environmental and maritime history areas, including John Sandlos, Arn Keeling, and Valerie Burton. While here on campus, I have participated in events with the MUN History Society, as well as the MUN Rowing Team, which meets at Quidi Vidi Lake.
What do you like most about being a graduate student at Memorial?
As a graduate student, I really enjoy the responsibility of independent scholarship. There is more freedom to make choices about what you wish to study and what you hope to learn, allowing you to pursue interests that matter to you personally.
What do you hope to do after completing your graduate degree?
I am not entirely sure what I aim to do after completing my degree. I have considered everything from law school to running off somewhere warm to work on a whale watch. Maybe I’ll do both. Ultimately, I would love to travel and do work that promotes maritime education and sustainable resource use.