Learning about the environment to help save it – A Crawford Graduate’s story

07 December 2023

Kevin Ramadhan Sandy wanted to be a diplomat, gaining his degree in international studies in 2013, but a break year after graduating changed his life course.

Kevin grew up in the city of Banda Aceh, in the Aceh province of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of Sumatra Island. After finishing studying, he returned home to explore the area before planning to enter the workforce and fell in love with nature.

Rather than entering diplomacy, Kevin took a job at a local conservation NGO called Forest, Nature, and Environment Aceh (HAkA/Hutan Alam dan Lingkungan Aceh). The organisation’s main focus is on the protection of the Leuser Ecosystem. Through this work, he learned that it is a complex landscape with complex governance, pressured by the development agenda. Forest conservation, therefore, in Aceh is not just about the forest and biodiversity but also about the people.

Learning about this human-nature relationship drove Kevin to pursue further education, enrolling in the Master of Environmental Management and Development at the Crawford School of Public Policy. He says he was drawn to the focus of the course being on both the social and political dimensions of environmental management, and he needed to gain both theoretical knowledge and practical skills at the same time.

The last two years have been a challenge but also incredibly fulfilling for Kevin. He says, “I’ve undergone a huge upgrade from who I was two years ago. I have developed my understanding of issues in environmental conservation and how to advocate it to other stakeholders, including the community and policymakers.”

He believes the community must be at the heart of environmental management and climate mitigation and adaptation. Noting that while there has been progress over the past decade, “Policymakers must remember to set global policy then can be flexible to local context. This can be done by inserting principles that respect customary rights of indigenous people and to always invite participation from the community,” he says.
If you are thinking of studying at Crawford, Kevin says that students from any background should be brave and excited to study here. He said, “I feel like one of the challenges that prevent us from studying a higher degree is because some of us have been away for so long from academic settings. At Crawford, I feel that we have immense support, particularly from the academic skills team.”

Kevin is set to return to his former workplace, HAkA, where he believes that, armed with the skills he has acquired, he is prepared to collaborate with both the community and the government to achieve conservation outcomes that are equitable and effective.

Congratulations on your graduation from all of us here, Kevin! We are looking forward to seeing all of your future success.

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