Through my ambassadorship with the Global Leadership Program, I was granted the opportunity to interview Dr Sara Fuller from the MQ Department of Geography and Planning and Convenor of the GLP Colloquium, A Global Perspective on Climate Justice.
Sara’s research explores concepts and practices of justice and democracy in the context of global environmental change with a focus on the role of non-governmental organisations and communities in enacting a low carbon transition. Sara highlighted the focus of her work as, “looking at inequalities in and around the environment and connecting those to humans – so not just looking at the environment in isolation.”
The environment is often considered a voiceless stakeholder. Although humanity depends on a healthy environment to thrive on, the environment is often taken for granted and mistreated for its resources. I asked Sara about the relationship between justice, democracy and the environment and found that the answer isn’t a simple one.
Referring to my idea of the environment being a voiceless stakeholder, Sara said; “In some ways it is, in some ways, it isn’t. It’s voiceless to one degree, where we try to push it to one side and manage it with technology. But on the other hand, it’s not voiceless because it has a clear impact and we see the impact of that everyday.” This comment struck me, like lightning. The environment does have a voice and it is now speaking up. Through record temperatures, occurrences of natural disasters and extinctions, it is trying to tell us something. Climate change is happening, and we, as future leaders, have the opportunity to do something about it.
Speaking of persons and stakeholders that have no voice, Sara highlighted the significance of giving a voice to future generations; “Future generations have no rights in a legal sense; thus intergenerational justice is another important concern.” You may feel overwhelmed by all of this – I know I often do. The question is how do we apply democratic principles in order to protect what we have and conserve it for the future? Sara advocated for ‘collective action.’ “By collectively organising and managing workloads, this doesn’t only prevent the same people from burning out; it validates your own views by putting them into action and allows you to influence policy through the power of collective action.” We can achieve a lot more if we act together.
On a final note I asked Sara; what would you say to your university self and to a university student now?
“You can be strategic, but you can’t plan what’s going to happen in your life. Be open to opportunity and follow through with those opportunities.”
Thank you so much Sara, your time and insight is so valuable to me and I hope other students can also take something away from this.
Written by Ashley Avci (pictured above).
Ashley was our Session 1, 2016 GLP Student Ambassador. She is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Environmental Science with a Bachelor of Laws and began the Global Leadership Program at the start of 2013. Ashley also founded her own not-for-profit ‘Fin Free Sydney’, raising awareness about the impacts of shark finning.
For further information, Sara suggested watching Naomi Klein’s ‘Capitalism and the Climate’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2015.
Ashley’s interview with Dr Sara Fuller is part of a new blog series to give you a better insight into our GLP Convenors and their Colloquium and Think Tank topics. We asked our GLP Student Ambassadors to interview a Convenor on their area of expertise – what inspires them, what makes them tick and what advice they would give GLP young leaders.
Dr Sara Fuller’s Colloquium, A Global Perspective on Climate Justice, will be running on Wednesday 5 October, 2pm – 5pm. Register on Thrive (undergraduates and study abroad/exchange students only).