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From Yogyakarta's Palace ruling to Crawford School: Azka is paving the way for sustainable development

09 December 2023

Azka Azifa brings a unique perspective to the Crawford School. She’s from the last remaining Palace ruling in Indonesia called Yogyakarta, nestled in Java Island. It’s renowned for its cultural heritage and arts, as well as being home to Buddhist and Hindu temples. It is shielded by Merapi mountain in the north, mountain ranges in the west and east, and the ocean to the south. It is a place where culture and nature coexist within arm’s reach.

Azka always showed an interest in climate change and the impacts it had on her hometown. She recounts buying a thermometer from a scout store and noticing the average temperature of 27 degrees increasing to 31 degrees in the space of five years. She saw that this had a noticeable impact on people’s behaviour and spending habits. “No one wanted to walk with me to the bus. It was too hot for too long, which then led to more people buying personal vehicles.” However, she said that those alternatives were not available to everyone. Raised by a single mother, she said that for low-income families, even buying air conditioning is a ‘big’ thing. This led her to realise that “it is not only climate change that poses disproportionate impact to the communities, but the solution might have done the same.”

Indonesia is currently facing dual challenges: addressing climate change and advancing national development. These goals may appear as conflicting priorities. Strengthening social dialogue and continuous learning from diverse cases, not limited to Indonesia, but also involving neighbouring countries such as the Pacific Islands and Australia and crucial for achieving a just transition.

Learning the skills to change the dialogue was a key reason for Azka wanting to study at Crawford. Her previous work in government, NGOs and research and monitoring companies taught her “that effective policymaking necessitates not only theoretical knowledge for problem-solving frameworks but also practical skills to translate research into policy and action. Crawford proved to be the ideal fit for my needs.”

This led her to the Master of International and Development Economics program (IDEC), where she says her professors excelled at teaching the integration of theoretical frameworks with real-world practices, drawing on both their own research, also practical engagements with governments and non-governmental organisations.

One key benefit to studying at Crawford for Azka was how the degree was structured with interconnected courses. She says that the coursework is meticulously designed to complement each other, where you establish a strong theoretical framework before delving into the practical applications. Because the lecturers are also researchers in their own right, “these classes not only offer the latest updates in the field but also teach students how to analyse problems with an economic framework.” She mentions two courses that stood out for her work, “Quantitative Policy Impact Analysis and Master Microeconomic courses have been exceptionally beneficial. They provided extensive hands-on experience with data and software analysis, which is very much relevant for work.”

She also said that she followed many of the lecturers online, including Professor Paul Burke, Professor Blane Lewis, Professor Stephen Howes, and Dr Firman Kartaadipoetra, having admired their work from afar. However, Azka said being their student and listening to them teach, made her admire them much more. “Throughout my courses, these lecturers have consistently provided valuable support, asked thought-provoking questions, and offered constructive feedback,” she added.

For students wanting to study at Crawford, Azka says everyone was approachable and helpful, and there is a rich and extensive support system that is convenient to access, but it is up to students to utilise it. This includes the Academic Skills team, who assisted her with brainstorming to essay outlines. The diverse cohort is also a huge drawcard, “I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to study alongside individuals from diverse professional backgrounds and countries. They bring their experiences and thoughts into the class, which gives a much diverse and broader perspective,” she said.

So, what does the future hold for Azka? She says she plans to support Indonesia’s transition in climate change while initiating a min-forest project in her current home, Muara Enim in South Sumatra. Before she tackles that, she hopes to visit Cairns to dive at the Great Barrier Reef and visit her hometown in Yogyakarta to learn about permaculture and agricultural practices.

Congratulations from all of us here at Crawford, Azka! We wish you the very best in the future.

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Updated:  26 April 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team