Carol Linnitt

Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt

Category: Emerging Alumni Awards

Name: Carol Linnitt        

UVic degree and year: PhD in English, and Cultural, Social and Political Thought, 2021

Other degrees: Master's in English Literature from York University; Master's in Philosophy in the field of phenomenology and environmental ethics.
Current hometown: Victoria                                                 

Birthplace: Vancouver

Carol Linnitt is a journalist, editor and co-founder of The Narwhal, a news website featuring investigative journalism about Canada’s environment. Linnitt began her career writing and performing interviews for The Canada Expedition, a non-governmental sustainability initiative, and while working in dispute resolution with communities affected by resource scarcity. Linnitt has a Master's in English Literature from York University where she studied political theory, natural-resource conflicts and Indigenous Rights. She also has a Master's in Philosophy in the field of phenomenology and environmental ethics and has a PhD in English, and Cultural, Social and Political Thought (CSPT) from the University of Victoria. When she’s not on her computer, you can usually find her in some ocean, somewhere, free-diving or surfing.

Q: What was the moment you realized your career calling?

CL: I've always felt drawn to stories — listening to them, learning from them, creating them. Once I hit my early twenties and started developing a passion for telling stories that would otherwise go untold, I think my journey towards becoming a journalist was set. 

Q: Many people are not following one career for life. What other work might interest you in the future, even as a hypothetical?

CL: In some ways, I feel like I already embody a multi-career kind of life. While working on my PhD I found myself in the very fortunate position of being able to launch The Narwhal with my colleague, Emma Gilchrist. It's been a challenge but also an immense intellectual pleasure to have one foot in the journalism world and one in academia. I was greatly supported by my committee at UVic to draw upon my experiences as an environmental journalist to enrich my academic research, and I feel like this experience has given me great insights and respect for the different but very complimentary work writers and thinkers do both inside and outside of the university setting. At the moment, I'm really enjoying the work of bringing my academic background into my work at The Narwhal, and using it to interrogate the presumptions that undergird journalistic practices. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to use my journalistic experience to help the academic world think critically about other epistemological practices. 

Q: What is a favourite book you read in the last five years and why?

CL: The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin is one of the most invigorating and imaginative things I've read in a long time. I find myself talking about these books all the time. They are a beautiful example of how we can use speculative otherworlds to explore our own, and find new meaning and new urgency to address some of the most critical questions of our time including the ecological emergency and how it bears down on society's most vulnerable. 

Q: What is your advice to younger people entering your line of work or who feel lost or confused about their future?

CL: When you find good people, people who inspire you, people who invest in you and people who meaningfully challenge you, don't let them go. The best parts of my professional and academic life have been because of the incredible individuals I've been lucky enough to work with and learn from. 

Q: How did UVic, or your faculty specifically, shape you as a person? What is the best advice a mentor has given you?

CL: I attribute so much of my academic enjoyment to my dissertation committee and especially to my supervisor, Dr. Jentery Sayers. I was constantly humbled by how much Jentery was willing to invest in me, and he always knew the exact right time and way to encourage me. He reminded me that I needed to write my dissertation for myself, first and foremost, and that gave me the permission to dig deep into my own values and personal passions to complete my research. Jentery, as well as my other committee members, Dr. Nicole Shukin (English) and Dr. James Rowe (Environmental Studies), also challenged me to expand my thinking and be more inclusive and vulnerable in my work. This led to a much richer experience as a PhD student at UVic than I ever would have managed on my own. 

For the full list of 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, click here.