Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
After completing my Master's degree in 2012 at the University of Auckland, I spent a year and a half working in higher education and environmental consulting. By 2013, a new water policy was rolling out across New Zealand, and I developed an interest in how ‘Regional Council Forums’ (workshops with local government bureaucrats and researchers) might serve to troubleshoot issues arising with implementing this new policy. I wanted to pursue a PhD for two reasons: first, I wanted to further my study and engage with new theories and scholars in a different context (UBC), and second, I wanted to analyze this key moment in ‘policy learning’ that was happening in New Zealand.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I wanted to study in a strong Geography department and engage with world-leading scholars in physical, human and environmental geography. UBC has one of the best Geography departments in the world, and it is also one of the last remaining autonomous Geography departments that hasn’t yet been merged into something else. UBC also houses many other scholars who are doing insightful related work in applied environmental science, environmental valuation and environmental governance. The UBC campus is beautiful, and Vancouver – for all of its challenges – is a really nice place to live. I also met Stephen Toope in 2012 at an Asia-Pacific university presidents meeting, and he convinced me that UBC was a university with a conscience that really valued social science.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
The graduate courses that I’ve taken at UBC have really empowered me to learn and grow as a scholar. I’ve broadened my horizons significantly I think – both in terms of knowledge of different theories and approaches, as well as knowledge about myself and how I am connected to particular hierarchies and geographies of knowledge production.
Coming from New Zealand, there is a widespread sense of being outside of the main centers of theory development in social science. Thus, the opportunity to study with leading scholars in particular fields – for example, studying ecosystem services with Kai Chan and human geography methods with Jamie Peck - have been powerful experiences for me, and are already shaping my intellectual trajectory.