How have you found online learning?
For the most part, everyone is very used to it now! It is only difficult being at home, because I live on my own, so as soon as I turn my laptop off it feels very silent and that is a bit weird! I think everyone has coped really well and there’s only been a few instances where I think it’s been a detriment to the module – modules where there is a lot of teamwork and stuff that you would normally get up and around the classroom and being interactive, for example. But overall, I think the University has done really well, at working around the issues. But obviously, it would have been much nicer to be on campus!
How have you found your student experience so far?
It’s been good, this has been the part of the course that I’ve loved the most, getting to know people from different interest areas, different cultures. Because we are such a small group you really all work together and there no cliques or anything. It has definitely taught me a lot about people – seeing things in a different way to me, so although we are in a bubble in the sense, that we’re all interested in environment. It’s so interesting to see where we’ve come from – we’ve got engineers, we’ve got chemists, we’ve got scientists, we’ve got those who have had years in industry and people who have come straight from undergraduate university. So, from that point of view, I think that’s probably what I’ve learned the most is just taking everyone on board.
What module have you enjoyed the most?
I actually enjoyed a module called Strategic Foresight. Which I just really, really enjoyed the module content, but it is actually the one that I think was at a detriment to being online. Due to the fact that it is very interactive, and doing the module online gives people the opportunity to hide if they are shy, whereas if you’re in person on campus it is easier as it tends to bring people out of their shell.
The module is all about looking at the future and what the future holds in different scenarios and having a different look at things. Normally, we just look at past case-studies, things that have happened, you know, facts. But then being able to apply that to, ‘what could happen?’ I found this really, really enjoyable!
What made you want to study Environment at Cranfield?
I have been interested in environmental sustainability for years, and I did my undergraduate dissertation in circularity within the fashion industry. A lot of my modules for my undergrad were around responsibility and sustainability. So that’s where I got interested although it was a Business Economics course, so like not super related!! It was actually my dissertation tutor who recommended Cranfield to me and this specific course as well! In chats with him he said, “I know the perfect course if you did want to do a masters.” At first, I wasn’t going to do one, but I decided that because of lockdown, I didn’t want to just waste a year, sat at home in my PJ’s! Or if I am sat at home in my PJ’s at least I’m going to be doing some work!
I then looked at Cranfield University and saw the reputation it has with industry. I then mentioned it to my Dad, and he was like, “Oh my god, I would be the proudest Father ever if you went to Cranfield. We used love hiring people from Cranfield!” so my dad was really the one that got me excited!!
Could you tell us a bit more about your group project?
I was very happy and lucky with the group that I got, and the project! We are working for the OxCam Arc Environment Group. They’ve built these environmental principles and they want to be an exemplar area for industry, governance, the people and everything in that region. So, everything between Oxford and Cambridge basically, and going through Milton Keynes (close to Cranfield).
Our project is all about building a framework for a route map, that they can then implement across the principles. We are looking at how we can help them along doing that, and what the barriers or opportunities might be. We are interviewing people from all different industries, and councils to find out the answers for them.
Are you working with students from different courses in your project team?
Yeah, so there’s only four of us, it’s a small group! One is a friend from my course already and then the other two are from Environmental Engineering MSc, which is nice, because I’d say they’ve probably been the group that we have interacted with the least with throughout the year.
We have had quite a lot of interaction with Future Food Sustainability MSc, and various other courses in the school of Environment as well as the School of Management. But it’s good to get different mindsets on it and our brains clearly work very differently! But it’s working out so far and we are all able to bring different experiences to the group.
Have you been able to use any of the knowledge or skills you learned during your modules in your group project?
Yeah 100%, the strategy module is actually pretty much directly related to this and is almost the follow-on to the project that we did for that module. So, this part is something that we learnt about, in theory. It’s almost like the next part of what we did, for a different topic of course! It is useful, as I can go back and look at the work that we did on that and the notes I took, and I have the same tutor as my supervisor. So very useful!
Over the whole course, I’ve learned so much about industries that I would never have looked at, because my knowledge on environmental sustainability has tended in the past to be about stuff that I’m interested in, for example the fashion industry. Now my interest has completely changed!
Having been part of this project and looking at sustainable urban development, we have learnt about agriculture and that is something I just would never have thought I would be interested in! All of those interests and knowledge are coming into play with this project, and then will hopefully come into play with whatever I do after. That is what has blown my mind the most over this whole course, my interests have completely changed when I didn’t expect it to and a lot of that is from this project.
The course has opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities that are out there that I just would never have even looked at or clicked on before. But you never know, it might 180° before the end of the course! But it is all very exciting! I have started looking at jobs now and I’m getting excited about it, whereas before, it was a very scary prospect and something I did not feel 100% ready for.
What are you looking forward to as you near completing your group project?
I am looking forward to finishing the project!
But overall, I’m looking forward to seeing what we get done and getting feedback from the Arc Group, because we had a meeting with a team from the group a few weeks into the project and we got some really beneficial feedback. So yeah, I’m nervous about the grade but the feedback is what I’m most looking forward to!