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Kate Donnelly

A local voice speaks volumes in leading action on climate change

19 December 2022

An advocate for social justice, Kate Donnelly’s journey to Suva, Fiji led her to realise the greatest impact she could have on climate change was back home in Australia.

Kate’s strong sense of social justice led her to study law as she sought to make a difference. Throughout her undergraduate degree, Kate worked on environmental, refugee rights and LGBTQI+ projects.

But it was an opportunity to study abroad in Fiji during her undergraduate degree that deepened a long-held passion for climate justice—particularly getting to know some of the people involved in the Pacific Climate Warriors, an extraordinary grassroots network of people building community-focused climate advocacy.

“As an Australian, I came to realise the best thing I could do to support these efforts was to help bring Australia’s emissions down, so I moved back to Australia and enrolled in the Master of Climate Change at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU,” Kate reflected.

Kate chose to study the Master of Climate Change at Crawford School because it offered a unique blend of subjects that let her explore each of these perspectives on the problem alongside professors that are globally recognised experts and students from around the world—including the Pacific.

“I’d heard about the partnerships between ANU and the University of the South Pacific and had seen events hosted by the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific that ensured frontline perspectives were included in discussions about climate change and policy, which really appealed to me,” she said.

As someone committed to climate action, Kate felt supported and engaged while studying at Crawford.  

“I’ve loved studying at Crawford. I studied remotely for most of my degree, and even so I had transformative learning experiences with incredibly talented, knowledgeable and generous lecturers and met some great friends,” Kate reflected.

The online support and community was vital to Kate’s success. The experiences of bushfires and then the pandemic lockdown were shared with her close group, bringing much needed humour, friendship and guidance to a challenging academic year.

“My time studying the Communicating for Environment and Climate Policy course online with Bec Colvin and Nic Badullovich during COVID-19 lockdowns in Melbourne was a real turning point. Both Bec and Nic have such a passion for the topic, and the power of evidence-informed communication about climate change was contagious.  My closest friendships from ANU have all flowed from that course.”

Kate’s advice for people considering studying at Crawford and ANU is to find opportunities to volunteer and get to know your peers and professors.

“ANU brings together brilliant people and work, and there are so many opportunities to learn and contribute while you’re there! The ANU Below Zero is a truly brilliant example of this.”

Now working at the Investor Group on Climate Change in the Corporate Engagement team, Kate supports institutional investors to lower corporate greenhouse gas emissions through their stewardship programs.

Reflecting on her time at Crawford and looking to the future, Kate is optimistic about leading meaningful action on climate change that has vulnerable communities and social justice at its heart.

“I feel a real sense of momentum on climate, energy and other social policies which is really energising. I want policymakers—and the other actors in the private and community sectors who work with them—to continue taking a holistic view of social, environmental and economic issues.”

Crawford School of Public Policy offers an extensive range of specialised Masters and Graduate Certificate programs.

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Updated:  2 February 2023/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team