Theresa Murphy is a Sustainability Major who studied abroad for the 2016-17 Academic Year at Keele University in the United Kingdom. Sustainable SDSU caught up with her during the Spring 2017 semester to discuss her experiences abroad as it related to sustainability.
How did you get interested in studying Sustainability as a major?
Since childhood, I have had an extraordinary fascination with the world around me and exploring the outdoors to no end. It was only up until a few years ago that I realized I could take this fascination and turn it into a legitimate and established career with endless and far-reaching possibilities, both personally and professionally, while making a tangible difference upon the natural world and its inhabitants in all the ways I am able and more. Sustainability has such a broad spectrum of applicability to it, and I wholeheartedly and honestly cannot wait to pursue all the avenues that lay before me in doing.
What is it like to study Sustainability at Keele University, both in the classroom and outside the classroom?
It has been such an interesting experience thus far. I think it has been amazing to get such diverse perspectives on the issues that surround global environmental change and the European agenda and mindset in addressing these issues at hand. The professors seem to be invested and enthusiastic about sharing knowledge and an additional pieces of interest in the field that make up the essence of what sustainability has come and is growing to be. Keele University seems to also have a keen interest in promoting sustainability through actively practicing ‘green’ behavior and conduct throughout campus, halls, and infrastructure. The ‘green’ society on campus is active in promoting environmentally sustainable action through selling seasonally local, organic vegetable and fruit bags as well as engaging the students on campus with social awareness through communal events. I have also come to adore the community garden on campus, especially working on it with my own bare hands, and tend to sustain myself gratefully from it weekly!!
In your experience, what does Sustainability mean in the UK in general? How is it different than in the US?
I have come to believe that the UK holds an increasing and mounting respect for the environment; in legislation and growing attitude. However, uncertainty lays ahead with much of this activity heavily involving pressures from the EU. This of course, is now a different case as the UK have chosen to leave the EU through a majority vote. In regards to the US, I do believe that my home state of California is very forthright and progressive in its interests for the environment and makes for such a unique atmosphere in the environmental world of sustainable pursuits. With the results of the recent presidential election, the environmental sector in the United States seems to now be a bit volatile and unnerving with the lack of interest from the new administration. Both countries are in a suspended state of perceived growth; time will definitely tell and reveal all.
After your first semester abroad, have you had any big realizations or highlights related to Sustainability? Could you please share?
I am a very aware individual. However, in doing this study abroad program I have found that communal understanding of the effects of global environmental change should be shared and promoted in various social avenues as well as communicated through the scientific platform in which it is credibly explored. I really believe in supporting individual as well as communal efforts on sustainability as it seems to be more far reaching in this way.
How do you view the intersection of SDSU’s commitment to sustainability and SDSU’s commitment to internationalization?
I see the intersection of SDSU’s commitment to sustainability and SDSU’s commitment to internationalization as incredibly invaluable as it develops individuals who are capable of understanding a plethora of cultural perspectives that create for a well-rounded and critical analysis of the field as well as ways in which one is able to share and promote it to a vast many.
What are your future goals related to Sustainability?
I intend to use what I have learned academically, and conveniently apply it to the working world in many many ways. I have a great amount of interest in the world of environmental studies and sustainability, and see myself pursuing and promoting it through social awareness as well in strategic business movements I may make in the future.
Is there anything else you think students interested in Sustainability should know if they are considering participating in this program? Studying abroad in general?
I believe students in this field of study should really look within themselves and uncover what it is they are passionate for, and pursue it to no end, whether it is in finding or improving sustainable technologies, putting forth and supporting political agendas, sustainable agriculture, or wherever their heart lies. The ability to study abroad in another culture far different than your own leads to such an awareness of the world as well as the vast amounts of varying cultural perspectives that operate in. Although my experience in the UK is still ongoing, I cannot begin to find words that relay enough how incredibly eye-opening it has been for not only broadening my academic career, but more importantly…myself, as an individual of open and continual growth.