Interview with our Sustainability Cup Winner and Joint Degree MBA, Rachel Mak!

Vanessa: Hey Rachel! Thanks for sitting down with me and telling all these prospective students about your experience before and after F&ES. How about you tell us what you did before F&ES and how you chose to come here?

Rachel: Sure! I graduated from Harvard in 2010 and was an environmental science and public policy major. I knew when I graduated I wanted to go into the sustainability field, but as I was interviewing for jobs, it became really apparent I didn’t have the skillset I needed to get my dream job. So, I decided I wanted to go to grad school, but I wanted a bit of life experience first. I always wanted to go abroad, so after I graduated, I moved to Shanghai and worked in mergers…

Grassroots Organizing in a #FlatWorld: Technology Lessons from a Slum in Nairobi

If you live in one of the world’s poorest places, you probably do not have running water, raw sewage might flow past your door, and doubtlessly your government ignores you. Yet, you get the same 140 characters on Twitter as Barack Obama.

Last week I drove north from the upscale city center of Nairobi, veered right off the Thika Superhighway onto a dirt road, and suddenly found myself crowded in by shoddy metal shacks, people, and piles of trash. This is Mathare, Nairobi’s second-largest slum, where approximately 1/2 million (the more exact number is uncertain) live in extreme poverty in the middle of one of Africa’s biggest cities. Electricity, garbage pick-up, newspaper delivery, and running water do not reach many of the houses or storefronts in Mathare, but the…

Wait; what's it like to be a forester?

At the end of October, I had the chance to attend the Society of American Foresters (SAF) Conference
in Charleston, South Carolina. As a Master of Environmental Science (MESc) grad, it was fun to hang out with forestry students and alumni and hear about their experiences. I got a chance to sit down with some Master of Forestry (MF) students and hear about their experience on Forest Crew over the summer.

Forest Crew is a program that manages the Yale Forests with oversight by Professor Mark Ashton. Yale owns 10,880 acres of forestland in New England, including the Yale-Myers Forest in northeastern Connecticut. This mixed hardwoods forest is at the heart of the last significant undeveloped area in the DC to Boston metropolis, nicknamed the “Quiet Corner” as it…

Photo: Mariusz Patalan/Climate Centre

On Saturday November 16th was the first day of Development and Climate Days (D&C) at COP19. D&C Days, an extremely participatory event, was hosted by the GEFJICARed Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC), IIED and ICCCADI, along with my team partners at Yale, Verner Wilson and Rex Barrer,co-facilitated climate change games at D&C Days. We interned with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre as a component of the International Organizations and Conference Class that we are taking at at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In this post I want to share my reflections on how D&C Days, with an innovative conference approach, positively inspired participants to take action on climate change.

At D&C Days the first session of talks was about a diverse range…

Apples branded with the COP 19 logo that were distributed widely at COP-19 by Poland’s Ministry of Environment

From the first day I arrived in Warsaw for the UNFCCC’s 19th Conference of the Parties, there was an atmosphere of cautious excitement surrounding the negotiations on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). A week of negotiating had already taken place, resulting in consensus on two contentious technical issues, one of which had led to the breakdown of the REDD+ negotiations at last year’s COP. Agreement on these issues was an enormous accomplishment and, if adopted, would mean that the five major technical elements of the REDD+ framework would be complete. Enthusiasm was reined in, however, by the understanding that these technical elements would be held hostage for a decision on long-term REDD+ finance. It was an all-or-nothing deal: either the package of both technical and finance…

Giving #ClimateThanks This Week

When it comes to the state of the climate, there are plenty of reasons for concern. But there are also reasons for gratitude, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication says.

This Thanksgiving week, the F&ES-based group is using Twitter to call attention to the people and organizations making a difference in the climate fight – and asking others to do the same.

They’re calling it #ClimateThanks.

“With friends and colleagues across the climate community, we are taking a moment to tweet or post who or what we are thankful for in the fight for a safe climate,” the group wrote on its website. “Please Tweet #ClimateThanks and help us raise awareness about the amazing things people are doing and build a stronger…

“The Professional Degrees”

The Master of Environmental Management
The “MEM” is by far the most common degree in F&ES. About twice as many students do the MEM than the other degrees. It has 10 specializations, which you may or may not choose to participate in; business and the environment; climate science, adaptation and mitigation; ecosystem conservation and management; energy and the environment; environmental policy analysis; human dimensions of environmental management; sustainable land management; sustainable urban and industrial systems; urban ecology; water resources management. Specializations can be helpful to carve a path through a master’s degree, especially at Yale where the opportunities, events, and groups can be incredibly overwhelming. Employers see a specialization and have a clearer picture of your skills and knowledge areas. MEM students have some recommended coursework…

Winter is Coming to Westeros

Game of Thrones fans, take note.

Winter is coming to Westeros but we may very well be facing another reality.

Winter. We looked forward to it as kids as we counted down the days to school vacation. It’s what cheers us on as adults as we dive into mountain-loads of work  — the promise of December, crisp air and powder snow. The thrill of skiing, snowboarding, sledding down slopes.  The patience required to build a snowman. What if we can’t share these childhood memories of winter with the next generation? 

Warmer temperatures – caused by the build up of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere – have significant effects on ice and snow. Athletes Jeremy Jones and Gretchen Bleiler summed it up best when they wrote: …

Multi-hazard mapping in Metro Manila (Rappler.com).

“Stand up if you live in a city. Stay standing and I want you to hold this image of the destruction wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in your mind. Now, imagine that the early warning sirens go off. When you hear the sirens, what do you do? How do you know what to do, where to go?”

This was the interactive exercise I used to start off my talk at the COP19 side event on “Implementing Article 6” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Article 6 — which pertains to Education, Training, and Public Awareness — commits countries to “promote and facilitate… public access to information on climate change and its effects” and “public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and developing adequate…