Tina recounts experiences of studying MSc Environment and Sustainable Development at the Development Planning Unit
When I started the ESD course in 2008 I already knew for many years, that I wanted to work in International Development and I knew that it takes more than the personal motivation to do it properly.
I am a trained engineer for renewable energies and environmental engineering from FHTW in Berlin, Germany and during my studies in Berlin I had the possibility to intern with an NGO in Nepal which was a truly inspiring experience. And to be honest it was a difficult time.
After 4 months working for the NGO I knew that good technical knowledge was not necessarily the most important thing to contribute positively to development, but intercultural understanding and how to truly support changes and strategies towards a socially as well as environmentally positive impact.
After the engineering course I worked for a while as consultant for a Sustainable Building Services Consulting firm in London, because I couldn’t get a job in international development and I didn’t have the funds to start studying. It was a great experience, and although we really built truly sustainable buildings all over the world I didn’t want to work for companies like JPMorgan and Gazprom and actually helping them to tick the cooperate responsibility box on their websites. So I started looking for a Masters Course on Sustainable Development to get the skills I needed to be a development practitioner. I was lucky enough to find DPU and to get funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
I am now – 2 years after finishing MSc in ESD – just about to finish the Young Professional Programme of the GIZ (former GTZ) which included working with national agencies in Brazil on strengthening renewable and energy efficiency, working at UN-Habitat’s regional office to write recommendations on Pro Poor Sustainable Energy Strategies on a municipal level, working for UNDP’s Sustainable Energy Programme analysing successful energy access case studies and working at for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Before that – and directly after the masters – I volunteered for an NGO in Brazil in the area of slum upgrading working with local community groups.
Having studied ESD crucially helped me in getting where I am now, which is where I wanted to be and makes me really professionally fulfilled.
At DPU I had the opportunity to gain understanding of analytical, practical and strategy developing tools and covered the basic concepts of environment in development although it’s only a one year course. In my opinion this was only possible because most of the tutors are not only teaching, but working as development practitioners at the same time. Therefore they are able to conciliate gaps between academic and practical knowledge which I think is invaluable and they are really well connected within the field. I can highly recommend the course to anyone how is interested in pursuing a career in international development with a focus on environment.