Louise Foley, Graduate of the MSc in Climate Change
Tell us why you chose your master’s degree in Climate Change?
For my undergraduate degree, I studied International Relations at DCU which focused on a lot of politics and current affairs. As a result I found myself watching a lot of news and this was how I became aware of climate change issues and the enormity of the crisis. Then I saw that DCU had a new masters in climate change and that’s why I applied.
I went into this master’s degree from a policy and political background as opposed to having environmental knowledge. But that’s the great thing about this course because it accommodates people from a variety of backgrounds. Plus everyone does a module about the science of climate change and that was great for me to learn the basics and it ensures that everyone is on the same page.
When it comes to climate change, fixing the problem is going to take everyone from all different backgrounds and expertise. It’s a multi faceted problem. You’ll also take everything you’ve learned with you no matter if you are or are not working immediately in a relevant role - because there’s aspects you’ll bring into any part of your life.
Highlights of postgrad experience at DCU?
We did a trip to Abbeyleix bog which brought me back to the science of climate change. Often climate change can feel intangible and this trip really brought it to life for me. Not only did I learn a lot about the importance of Irish bogs and wetlands but it showed me how this is an area where Ireland can make a real difference in tackling climate change. This is something we can do. Ireland has about 8% of the world’s blanket bogs and these wetlands are known as ‘carbon sinks’ because they take carbon from the atmosphere and store it. This is why preserving the bogs is so important.
How has this master’s made a difference to your life?
This master’s degree has had a huge impact on me personally and on my career. I had no background in it and I didn’t come from an activist point of view. Immediately after graduating I was working for a logistics company. Now I’m working as a climate action graduate for Meath County Council. I wouldn’t have been called for an interview for my current job if I didn’t have the masters behind me. The knowledge and the way of thinking - goes into every aspect of your life.
My role is new to the county councils, it’s the first year they’ve developed these roles so I’m very lucky, it’s a great experience. This role is what you make it and one of the key things I work on is increasing awareness and climate literacy on climate change in communities.
I work on social media campaigns to reach audiences on facebook, instagram and Twitter and to spread key messages within the organisation itself as well. This master’s in Climate Change has really stood to me because I didn’t have a communications background but on the course I learned about how to communicate climate change - what to do and what not to do!
It’s early days, I’m really enjoying the role and the communications side of it. It’s exactly what I would like to do in the future in a consultancy role, guiding organisations on communication and climate change. With the MSc in Climate Change, you can really go into whatever area suits you and specialise in different areas.
Advice for future students?
I would definitely recommend this course! Remember it’s not a prerequisite that you have to be experienced in climate change to take this course. There are modules to cover the basics no matter what background you come from. I would also say that one thing to expect is that the more you learn about climate change, the more you can become frustrated that action can be slow because this problem is on a worldwide scale.
As my knowledge grew on the course about climate change, it’s easy to forget that everyone else doesn’t know what you do! You kind of go into a fish bowl on the course with your classmates and forget that there are plenty of people out there and in your life, who don’t know the ins and outs of climate change. That’s really eye-opening. But that’s why you’re doing the course - so you can be part of the solution and help spread the word! This course will equip you really well to talk to people who don’t know about climate change.
It’s also very useful for being exposed to different fields and experiences. One of my classmates worked in the Seanad. Another person was an economist. It also gave me access to people who have worked in city council. One of my friends used to work in the film industry and now he works in sustainability. You never know what you’re going to do down the line and who can help you along the way.