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Crawford School introduces our fantastic staff, so you can get to meet the people of Asia and the Pacific’s leading graduate policy school.
This time Associate Professor Sango Mahanty talks about her research into how people respond to crises, and why one of the best parts of teaching is witnessing students’ light bulb moments.
Why did you choose to work at Crawford School?
Crawford is a great place to teach and do research! I especially enjoy working with my colleagues in the Resources, Environment and Development group, life there is stimulating, supportive and fun. I do miss our daily contact during this campus closure but we try to catch up on zoom a couple of times a week.
Can you tell us how your research matters today?
I study the social dimensions of environmental change, a topic that’s central to our future on this planet. Right now, I’m part of a project about how people respond to extreme forms of social and environmental disruption or ‘rupture’. We are working at hydro-electric dams in mainland Southeast Asia, but the insights will support inclusive and effective environmental governance more broadly – even in facing crises like our recent fires and COVID-19.
Can you tell us about a student that has made you particularly proud?
There are too many to mention! I feel proud whenever I see students really engage in a discussion, when I see a spark of understanding about a tricky idea, or when students make connections about the things we study in class and daily events. Most of our students do really interesting things after they finish their studies, and we try to stay in touch.
Can you tell us about a feel-good dish that you or someone in your family makes during difficult times?
Given my heritage, my go-to comfort food is Indian. The simplest meals are the best - rice, dal and alu palak (spinach and potatoes). I use my mum’s recipes and they remind me of her.
Can you give us your top three tips about how to stay positive during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Three things that are helping me are getting daily exercise, preferably outside; staying connected with friends, family and colleagues; and making music.