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Science and arts poles apart?

Do you think science and arts degrees are poles apart? ANU Alumnus Phoebe Howe disagrees and she has the research credentials to back it up. “My Honours was a meeting between my two degrees, science and arts,” Phoebe explained. “I used social science research methods, but did so to address biophysical issues.”

Phoebe’s Honours thesis looked at the issue of climate change and tried to address the question of why is it such a difficult and contentious issue?

“The research was based around looking at communication within and between different kinds of community groups in the ACT in an aim to talk frankly about local climate policy. What was interesting was that the one thing that united people from these groups was frustration with our inability to make change. Even if people didn’t necessarily think we should take action on climate change, they were still concerned about things like the rise of adversarial politics, the growing bias and short term media focus and also short term thinking in processes in political decision makin,” says Phoebe.

“It was great because ANU has the flexibility to allow you to follow really novel ideas like this. If you want to do something different, you can do it here, but at the same time they do everything to make sure you do it to the best of your ability.”

Phoebe is now taking what she learnt from her research into the real world. “I am a climate change campaigner in the ACT with a group called Canberra Loves 40%. We began in 2010 and campaigned successfully for the ACT to commit to 40% greenhouse gas emission cuts by 2020. Now we are working to ensure that these cuts are implemented.”

In doing this work, Phoebe thinks her connection with the ANU will still be very valuable. “One of the great things about the University is that it challenged me to broaden my view and look at how I can use academia to help in my work. What I’m looking at is how I use my connection with ANU and possible future study to help effect community change.”

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About Simon Copland

Simon Copland is a freelance writer and climate campaigner. In his spare time he plays rugby union and is a David Bowie fanatic. He is a regular columnist for the Sydney Star Observer, blogs at The Moonbat and tweets at @SimonCopland.

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