With a background that combines law and advocacy, Lily Dempster started the ANU Master of Energy Change (MEnCh) in early 2016. She was drawn to the degree because of its multidisciplinary nature, its flexibility and the huge choice of electives.
“I've been passionate about climate change mitigation and sustainability for a long time” she said. “I chose this Master’s because I believe I'll be a better advocate if I have a decent technical overview of different renewable energy technologies and greater scientific literacy.”
After completing an undergraduate Law degree at ANU, she worked at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and most recently with online community advocacy group GetUp on a range of campaigns, including on clean energy and coal seam gas.
“I searched everywhere for a Master’s degree within Australia that would help bridge the gap between energy technology and advocacy and this was the only one I could find that didn’t require you to have a background in science or engineering. This program provides you with the physics and engineering knowledge you need up-front. It’s genuinely multi-disciplinary and incredibly flexible with a huge range of electives and students from all over the world.”
Lily expects that by the time she graduates, she’ll have a rare and complementary set of skills that not many people in Australia have. Based on her experience to date, she says that very few big Australian campaigning groups have staff who have a strong technical understanding of electricity generation and energy efficiency, “yet this type of expertise would help immensely in campaigns to decarbonise our electricity sector.”
“Doing this course has also reaffirmed in my mind that ANU really is a world-class university. You get great access to academics and practitioners, as well as being close to the policy community as a whole.”
Lily says she has been impressed by the range of people undertaking the degree and would recommend it to anyone who’s interested in renewables but doesn’t have a technology background or, in fact, who is working in the climate movement with an interest in environment or sustainability generally.
“Finally engineers with deep technical knowledge who want to learn about how they can communicate effectively and impact policy and behaviour would also benefit enormously from the program”, she said.