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It’s not often that a trip to the cinema changes your career path, but that is exactly what happened to James Walsh.
“I was watching a documentary called Chasing Ice. It’s about a photographer who was capturing the disappearance of glaciers. He created timelapses, showing the rapid recession of glaciers in Greenland, Iceland and Alaska. It was the first thing I’d ever seen that had made me understand the scale of climate change.
“At that point, I realised that climate change would be one of the most significant challenges to face our generation. I wanted to find a career path where I could contribute to solutions.”
James looked into ways that he could upskill for a career in climate change mitigation. Studying Crawford’s Master of Climate Change came as an obvious route to take.
When he started the degree, James wanted to understand how climate change is happening, and why. What kept him going was the time that he had face-to-face with his classmates, whose life stories inspired him.
“Many of my classmates had come from regions of the world where climate change is having a dramatic impact on people’s daily lives. They had worked in roles where they were tackling some of the critical climate change issues like rising sea levels in the Pacific, water insecurity and biodiversity loss. In class, they provided real-world insights into the challenges of solving these problems on the ground.”
Combining full-time work with part-time studies was a challenge, but James felt supported enough by his workplace to see it through.
As his communications career and his studies progressed simultaneously, he also realised how important it is to clearly communicate climate change research to the public and policymakers.
“I place incredible value in climate change communications. Through my work at ANU I’ve seen how important it is to connect people with the unique and important research that happens here.”
For James, studying and working at ANU opened his eyes not only to climate change challenges, but also the opportunities for effective solutions.
“There’s a lot that needs to change, but it’s quite exciting to see that we are developing solutions to the biggest climate change problems right here at ANU.”