Team MSc Sustainability

  • 12 March 2017, 11:41

MSc Sustainability is made up of five and a half students. The half being a part-timer. It’s a small size, but I can, in fact, tell you it is a big reason why I love this unique program. Almost all our courses are taken together and, perhaps because of that, we have developed lasting friendships. There are plenty of benefits to our small class sizes. It breathes ease into the classroom; we all feel comfortable speaking in front of one another, holding conversations, and asking questions. Our friendship follows us outside the classroom as well. We often enjoy potluck dinners and even ventured to a lovely Peatbog Faeries concert together. The five and a half of us make a great team but we couldn’t do it without the support, wisdom, and kindness of our instructors and mentors. With that said, I am wholeheartedly looking forward to conquering challenges and appreciating success alongside these folks in these two final semesters. Read the profiles below to hear a little bit more about each of us.

Courtney Ehrlich

Iowa, United States

BSc Environmental Science and Urban Design from Iowa State University

Why did you choose MSc Sustainability at University of Dundee? When I graduated in 2015, I knew I wanted to move abroad and I also knew I would need my Masters to be competitive in the job market so I picked my favorite countries and applied to highly-recognized Master’s programs in them. All signs pointed to Dundee!

What is the best part of the MSc Sustainability program? The best part, for me, is our small program size and close relationship with our tutors and professors.

What is the biggest challenge we face today? I think the biggest challenge we face is a lacking in motivation from society to progress. Sometimes I feel like we are stuck doing something the way we used to because it’s familiar and we’ve figured out comfortable ways of doing it, but all this while we could be creating better (more sustainable and purposeful) lives for ourselves and for the generations we will leave.

What high profile person would you have over for dinner? I would love to have Bernie Sanders over for dinner because he seems to be the incarnate form of my worldviews and I just think he would be pleasant company. I think he would probably recommend some of the best books, too.

Patrick Mason

Originally from Midlands in England but has lived in Scotland for over 10 years

Environmental Science and Sustainability at the University of Glasgow.

Why did you choose MSc Sustainability at University of Dundee? It suited me as has a large degree of flexibility and so has enabled me pursue my interests in a way that no other Master’s that I am aware of would have.

What is the biggest challenge we face today? At risk of sounding hypocritical, I think one of, if not the greatest, challenge we’re facing is the inseparable connection between ‘doing well’ and material consumption. I think reducing our perceived material quality of life would go a long way to addressing the roots of environmental challenges such as climate change.

How would you explain climate change to a non-believer? It’s frustrating that explaining climate change is still seen as necessary. I think a new approach to disseminating information on climate change is needed if the aim is to convince more people. However, while it is ideal, I don’t think it’s essential that we must convince everyone that climate change is real and an issue. Personally, at the moment, I don’t subscribe to a world view in which a person’s belief necessarily has an effect on their action. Even those of us most aware of climate change still live unsustainable lifestyles. Very briefly, I think it more important to change society than individuals. However, a pet peeve of mine is divisive language, particularly on the issue of climate change which necessitates society-wide action to overcome.

What would you save first, the Amazon or the Coral Reefs? Tough, I don’t know a huge amount about either! As far as I’m aware, the wider environmental benefits of coral reefs are relatively limited, whereas the Amazon rainforest has significant ‘benefits’ for the world. Unfortunately for the fish, the Amazon gets my vote.

Fiona Ross

Pitlcohry, Perth and Kinross, Scotland, UK

MA in Film and Television, Royal College of Art (1989) followed by 20 year career in film and television working in London and all around the world (my carbon footprint is dire). Re-trained as an antique restorer (last 6 years) and developed a passion for sustainability. Now Chair the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group

Why did you choose MSc Sustainability at University of Dundee? It’s the best option in Scotland for Sustainability, and I lucked out because it is 15 miles from where I live!

What would you do with 50 million pounds? With £50 million, I would buy Scottish Mountains, plant ancient forest and preserve them for the nation and future generations (and lower my carbon footprint of the last 30 years!).

What are your plans after you finish your degree? My goal after my degree is complete is to live a more sustainable life! To get some sleep! Money has never been my inspiration, following my instincts and my heart has always taken me further than I thought I could ever go.

Jan-Andre Mai


Human Geography; Interned in Urban Cycle Traffic Planning; Intrigued by the idea of urban food production

What is the best part of the MSc Sustainability program? It’s great because we learn practical things and effectively can go out in the world and do something beyond theory.

What is the biggest challenge we face today? I think the biggest challenge we’re facing is for people to genuinely pay attention to and have awareness for others.

What would you do with 50 million Euros? I would keep 8 million for me and then go to poor people in the world and help them with the most sustainable technical features I could get them until the Euros are gone!

What’s at the top of your bucket list? The top of my bucket list is to build a house for my family.

What high profile person would you have over for dinner? I honestly don’t like high profile persons, so I would have a high profile person over who I don’t know is a high profile person (and who doesn’t show it) …. the president of Mongolia for example, I have no idea who he/she is.

What are your plans after you finish your degree? I hope to be involved in interesting work that changes things, people, the environment, and my immediate surroundings.

Rory Angus

Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK

University of Aberdeen; 2:1 in Human Geography

Why did you choose MSc Sustainability at University of Dundee? I picked it because it is the only course of its kind in Scotland. I have been interested in sustainability for a long but have been unsure what career I wanted. Whilst other courses were extremely specific, a broader focus like Sustainability allowed me to take classes in environmental architecture, planning, politics, and research methods.

What is the best part of the MSc Sustainability program? For me, it has been the work placement. The staff in the department have fantastic links and I was able to do a work placement with Perth and Kinross Council. In addition to improvement in my employment prospects, it allowed me to conduct research in a professional setting, opposed to an academic environment.

What would you do with 50 million Pounds? If I won £50 million I would buy myself a nice house (everyone is a little selfish!), take my family on holiday, and set up my own environmental/sustainability charity. I would probably give a chunk of it to other charities like Oxfam and Greenpeace.

The top of my bucket list is to travel to San Francisco. It’s a city I have wanted to visit for a long time!

Simon Binks

Northumberland in NE England with the last 10 years in Bradford, West Yorkshire

Community development. More recently, I have worked in housing and as a mediator (neighbourhood and education).

What is the best part of the MSc Sustainability program? I’ve found the whole course varied and stimulating and the tutors knowledgeable, enthusiastic and approachable.

What is the biggest challenge we face today? I’d say finding a way to ensure that humans – at the level of individuals or the organisations they are a part of – make decisions based on the capacities of natural environment (its ecosystems and climatic processes) that we are intrinsically a part of.

What is at the top of your bucket list? I hadn’t thought of it as an item on the bucket list, but next adventure might be: ferry from the UK, cycling down through at least part of Europe, over the Alps, to good cup of coffee on the edge one of the Italian lakes.

Would you rather travel back in time or to a new planet? Maybe we should all go back in time to get a sense of slower, less stimulated lives we used to lead…



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