Glaciers — formed in the span of hundreds of years — disappearing in seconds. This was the image that sparked a turning point for Australian James Walsh. “At that point, I realised that climate change would be one of the most significant challenges to face our generation. I wanted to find a career path where I could contribute to solutions,” he says.
More than 7,000 kilometres away, Aditi Shah was working for the Indian government, seeking ways to help developing countries like hers transition to renewable energy. “Since I had been working as a policy analyst, I wanted to have a proper degree that would give me the skills to analyse and develop policies,” she says.
The next step was obvious: going back to school. So they did their research. The more they looked into policy schools around the world, the more they were drawn to The Australian National University (ANU). Specifically, its suite of postgraduate programmes in climate change policy.
Offered by ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, these are programmes taught by the region’s most renowned researchers and faculty members –– all of whom remain active on government committees and in key advisory roles across public, private and civil spheres. One of them is Dr. Rebecca Colvin, the convenor of Crawford’s Graduate Certificate of Climate Policy.
Colvin’s focus is on how our social identities shape the way in which we engage with climate change, energy developments, and other environmental issues. “Successful policy outcomes are so often dependent on what is happening in the social and political worlds. Because of this, I research and teach topics related to understanding the social complexity of climate, energy and environment policy,” she shares.
In the classroom, Colvin teaches courses on effective communication for environment and climate policy, quantitative research methods for environmental social science, and guides master’s students in undertaking independent research projects on climate and environment topics.
The one-semester Graduate Certificate of Climate Policy covers fundamental concepts, contemporary issues, and leading practices for working in and researching climate policy in domestic and international arenas. Key issues are emissions reduction and energy, and the effective communication of climate policy, which intersect and are adjacent to policy areas including water, food, pollution, and disaster risk reduction.
The Graduate Certificate spans six months full-time or its equivalent in the part-time and online options. It provides “an opportunity for students who, for various reasons, do not wish to undertake a full master’s programme, but nonetheless see great benefit in refreshing their knowledge, honing their specialisation, or updating their skills,” Colvin explains.
The certificate is a credited pathway toward further study in the Master of Climate Change programme, co-delivered by Crawford School of Public Policy and Fenner School of Environment & Society. Its highly interdisciplinary nature exposes students to many world-leading researchers spanning climate science, adaptation, policy, economics, and social studies.
“We are increasingly recognising that climate change cannot be treated purely as a scientific or technical issue,” explains Colvin. “In addition, we need a deeper understanding of people, communities, politics, societies, and culture. If we are to find ways to act on the best available science and technology to implement solutions to climate change, we need understandings that span and integrate all these dimensions and embrace the full complexity of climate change.”
Failure to recognise this results in pushback or resentment, with short-term solutions ending up as long-term problems, according to Colvin. Crawford School sidesteps this by developing students who can engage with complexity in a way that supports clever and effective solutions. “For example, in the Master of Climate Change we encourage students to undertake an independent research project course in their final semester,” Colvin explains.
Students at Crawford School have the support of world-leading researchers guiding them on how to prosecute an argument, how to appraise the quality of evidence, and how to develop a rigorous research design. “Some of our students have even pursued academic publication of their research papers,” Colvin adds.
Then, there’s Crawford School’s location in Canberra, Australia. The capital’s hallowed halls of power, substantial number of green-star certified buildings, ambitious local climate policies, and high scores in global wellbeing rankings draw scores of aspiring climate change specialists and policymakers every year.
The Master of Climate Change is one of the preferred programmes for the World Bank’s prestigious Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (JJWBGSP) for 2022. The JJWBGSP Program endows several key programs from Crawford School, including: Climate Change; Environmental and Resource Economics; Environmental Management and Development; Public Administration and Public Policy. Applications open in March 2021 and close in May 2021.
Crawford School offers a suite of degree options to meet various demands: Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of International and Development Economics (MIDEC), Master of Environmental Management and Development (MEMD), Master of Environmental and Resource Economics (MEREC), Master of Climate Change (MCLIM), and Master of National Security Policy (MNSPO).
The School also offers a range of graduate certificate programs as entry paths for Master study or career advancement.
To learn more about how you can join one of the world’s leading centres for teaching, research and outreach on the region, click here.