Anna recounts experiences of studying MSc Environment and Sustainable Development at the Development Planning Unit
Before joining the Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) masters course, I had graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, London) in Geography. After completing the ESD course, I went to work for the Fairtrade Foundation, first as a volunteer and then as a consultant.
My dissertation had been focused on the cut flower industry in Kenya. I contacted Fairtrade Foundation while I was doing my dissertation to say that I would be interested in working with them on developing fairtrade flowers. I then went on to work on other products with them, such as Soya.
I now work for a UK consultancy company called SHM. I worked for two years in the London office as a project manager with a particular focus on areas of education and health in the UK. I have now set up the SHM office in Mexico City working on a wide range of projects.
I was a cofounder of a pilot project called Project Zumbido that created support networks for those living with HIV/AIDS in rural and urban areas of the state of Jalisco via mobile phone. We were the finalists this year in the Stockholm Challenge Awards, for projects working in the area of ICT and development.
Now my interest very much lies in working in the area of new advances in the digital world and the opportunities that they provide for social change. I have been involved in the Freedom of Expression project run by the Ford Foundation that looks to understand how communications are changing the world and other initiatives such as mobileactive.org a group of people and communities worldwide using the mobile phone for social impact.
Although much of my work after ESD has not been focused in the area of environment, I think there is a lot that I have learnt from the ESD course that I have brought into my professional life. I regularly use participatory approaches in the work that I do and I feel that I always try to take an integrated approach to the projects that I am working on, whether it is in health, environment or education. ESD also taught me how to work as part of a team and come up with practical solutions to problems in development. I think that this is something very unique of Development Planning Unit (DPU), to have a balance of theory and practice.