We need environmental action - discover how graduate Thomas Kennett is making a difference

Finding a profession that aligns with your aspirations, values and abilities can be a major challenge. Like many, Thomas Kennett knew what he wanted in life, but simply did not have the credentials to get ahead. Then he found the Master of Environment and Sustainability (MES) at Monash, and his life changed forever.

Thomas reveals how his degree set him on his path to making the world a greater place.

What did you enjoy most about the Master of Environment and Sustainability?

When I began the MES, I told myself that I would never do a thesis because it honestly scared me to think of what was required. This feeling remained until I entered the start of my second year and began to ask questions about how I can bring the most impact and influence whilst getting exposure to my area of interest (sustainable agriculture). My conclusion was that writing a thesis was the best way to do this. I changed my unit plan and signed up to the 12-month academic thesis! Having now completed the thesis, I can honestly say that it was one of the hardest tasks I have ever tackled, but the most rewarding.

From this thesis, I have set myself up for a PhD option, have presented the research findings to government, and have recently been hired as a consultant. The world has opened up for me and I cannot be more excited and driven to contribute to a sustainable change in the best way I can.

Highlights of your degree?

Some of the best experiences were completing an internship at ClimateWorks and an academic thesis with Dr Vanessa Wong and Associate Professor Wendy Stubbs. I was also fortunate enough to work with the United Nations Environment Programme on their Global Environment Outlook-6 for Youth publication that is due for release in April 2020.

How has this course helped you, both professionally and personally?

I want my life to be fulfilling so that I can be the best person I can be for myself and everyone around me, including the environment. Completing the MES has given me alignment and fulfilment. I am now personally fulfilled by the professional work that I do, which makes me a happier and healthier person.

What are the benefits of studying the MES?

The course provides an incredible range of streams and units to give students a holistic understanding of what it means to be a human on planet Earth, and equips them with skills required to be a sustainability professional. I was lucky enough to be in the first group of students to begin the Leadership stream, which blends sustainability with behaviour change and leadership. You can gain so many benefits from this course if you just go for it all and give it your best.

What is next for you? How do you plan to change the world for the better?

Now that the MES has finished, I am looking for short-to-medium term opportunities that help to transition towards a sustainable future i.e. through education, further research or within industry or government roles. In the long-term, I like the idea of becoming an industry fellow – part industry, part academia – because I believe that there is a need for multidisciplinary professionals in an ever-changing and highly diverse world.

To access my short- and medium-term opportunities, I am utilising the networks formed from, and research data generated by, the MES research thesis that focused on the agriculture sector. For example, I have recently presented a ‘stewardship-based’ Natural Resource Management concept to a government department in Victoria to consider and I have been offered a PhD opportunity on a yet-to-be-approved project that aims to transition agriculture in Australia. Taking on a PhD is a big commitment, but if it will truly contribute to sustainable changes by providing the research needed to make informed decisions about our future, as well as benefit my future, then I will seriously consider this option.

I will also look for work opportunities with current and future MES students and on important research projects that support a transition towards sustainability. I believe that this multidisciplinary approach will assist me in contributing to sustainable solutions that generate high impact changes for a better world.

The Master of Environment and Sustainability is a collaboration between Monash Science, Monash Arts, the Monash Business School and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute.

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Master of Environment and Sustainability