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Transforming knowledge into action

11 February 2022

With a background in the natural sciences, Kyle Townsend has a deep understanding of the science behind climate change. What he didn’t understand was the lack of public urgency surrounding it. It was his frustration with a lack of public change that led him to pursue the Master of Climate Change.

“I felt a sense of helplessness at being able to take action beyond my own person, and I felt especially frustrated at my inability to communicate people… that at some point the weight of knowledge would simply lead to a change in believe and action on climate change. It doesn’t.” Kyle said.

The desire to transform knowledge into action led to Kyle pursue the Master of Climate Change, after completing his Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management. Kyle knew that the tools and strategies to enhance and enact better climate policy, could be found at Crawford.

“You can make the biggest differences in policy and communication. You can create a wonderful policy that could drive great practical action, but if you cannot communicate it to stakeholders and achieve public support, you’re basically doomed to achieve very little.” He said.

While some might shy away from a challenge, Kyle is not one of those people. One of the most rewarding parts of his time at Crawford was letting his curiosity lead the way.

While enrolled in an ecotourism subject, Kyle found himself challenging the dominant consensus of the class. It was the subsequent robust ‘intellectual debate’ that compelled him to push himself.

“I did every reading, went beyond the scope of the course, and pushed myself to do the best I could.” Kyle admitted.

When asked why he is pursuing a career in what seems like an uphill battle, Kyle finds comfort and inspiration from his curiosity and engagement with deep critical thinking.

“I’m innately a very curious person: if I have a question, even if it might seem irrelevant, I must know the answer. I try and approach issues with a lens that critically assessing information, that takes observation and existing knowledge to triangulate the veracity and accuracy of information and theories.” Kyle reflected.

Kyle’s desire to be surrounded and challenged by ‘eminent, and original thinkers,’ was one of the main reasons he chose to undertake his Master’s at Crawford. Having access to leading experts from around the world left Kyle feeling continually challenged in his critical thinking.

“It’s a refreshing experience contrasted to other experiences I have had in academia where it is very much ‘this is how it is, the untested axiom shall stand, regardless of your doubts.’” Kyle says.

The engaging classroom environment was one that encouraged great debate, reflection and connection. Small class sizes and the ability to freely share informed opinions, allowed Kyle to benefit from robust discussions.

“I’ve made a great deal of excellent contacts with people who are not only highly intelligent but offer a great diversity of opinions and ways of both thinking and approaching problems.” Kyle fondly recalled.

Towards the end of his course Kyle knew that he wanted to apply his learnings and produce a tangible outcome that itself could inform better climate policy.

“Writing my Master’s thesis felt like something where I can finally make a difference. I pushed myself to produce the best work I could, and I took it as a mark of my own intellectual ability.” He says.

Now, with a Master’s degree in hand, combined with extensive volunteering, along with being equipped with academic and professional tools and strategies, Kyle will continue to harness those motivating factors to the next stage of his career.

“I studied climate change because it gave me that sense of meaning and purpose, it touched on everything and every system: social, economic, ecological, and even the philosophical. I hope for a role where I can be of the most benefit is what matters, and that doesn’t rule out any industry,” said Kyle.

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Updated:  6 December 2022/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team