>> Professor João Porto de Albuquerque (Director of the Institute for Global Sustainable Development and Director of Postgraduate Research): The societal problems of today, the sustainable development challenges that we have are increasingly complex. For tackling those problems we need perspectives that go beyond disciplinary boundaries.
>> Dr Stéphanie Panichelli-Batalla (Head of the School for Cross-faculty Studies): When we are looking at addressing complex problems in the world, I always remember this quote from Ban Ki-moon who said: “… we need to stop working in silos and we need to make sure that if we want to make a difference we approach things in a different way.” So the way we work in GSD is that we have members of staff who are coming from very different disciplines and we all constantly work with people from the private sector, from local governments, from NGOs, for example.
>> Dr Mandy Sadan (Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes in GSD): People often ask us why we’ve chosen the MASc (Master of Arts and Science) as the award and it is quite unusual – we’re only one of two institutions in the UK at the moment that offers it. We’ve got to remember that the global challenges framework says that we need to think about how we can encourage interdisciplinarity, so the MASc – by bringing together the Arts, the Humanities, the Social Sciences and the Natural Sciences is really embodying the fact that we are trying to connect all of those fields together.
We’ve got a really unique approach to teaching and learning on this course. We want our students to focus on real-world problems and thinking about how they can help to solve those problems and that involves very practical thinking, very pragmatic approaches. We also insist on a very strong critical and philosophically self-reflective approach to learning as well and we encourage that kind of approach so that our students will emerge as real thought leaders in the context of sustainable development.
A really important part of our programme as well is the rather unique capstone projects that students can undertake which will be in Term 3 and over the summer. We’ve got three routes: The first route is a more traditional academic output where you write an extended academic dissertation. We also have another option where people can do a practice-led output. They might focus not just on an extended piece of writing but also on delivering that as a policy report or something that has a real-word application in a workplace. The third option that we have is a workplace project. This will be supported by our Employability and Placement Manager but it could also take place in an employer that you already know or perhaps you’re already working with them. It’s a time to reflect on an element of your practice or an element of policy within the organisation that you’re working with and hopefully that would be a very good opportunity for people to use the programme in a very focused way to help their career development.
>> Bodrun Nahar (Employability and Placement Manager): My role is to provide employability support to our postgraduate students, supporting them to develop their professional skills throughout their study programme. The support that I will be providing is one-to-one advice and guidance on any matters related to employability. I will also be delivering employability skills sessions to support their professional development. Along with that, the students will get access to employers that I will be building connections with.
Students from the GSD degree programme can actually go into a number of different careers. This can be anything from advocacy work, so international relations, for example. It could be in governance so policy shaping, to in the education sector and that could be at different levels, so secondary right through to university level. They can also go into research, so perhaps working for think tanks or even in academia. There are a number of different career paths open to GSD students – it really does depend on what their interest is. I’m here to support them in helping them to identify that.
>> Dr Stéphanie Panichelli-Batalla (Head of the School for Cross-faculty Studies): In GSD, I think we can say we are a community of change makers, and this applies to both our staff and our students. Our staff are involved with research projects which really intend to make a difference to current issues and the big, global challenges that the world is facing today, but our students are also very much similar to us. So we attract students who are passionate about making the world a better place and about protecting our environment and about reducing inequalities.