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Crawford School of Public Policy

Thomas Swann | Master of Climate Change

Thomas Swann is studying a Master of Climate Change at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the ANU in Canberra.

I'm Thomas Swann. I'm a senior researcher at the Australia Institute. We're a Canberra-based independent policy think-tank, and I'm studying the Masters of Climate Change at the Australian National University (ANU). 

What did you study in your undergraduate degree? 

" I moved to Canberra from Sydney to study a Bachelor of Philosophy at the ANU, I did the PhB as t was called in Philisophy, and that gave me an enormous opportunity to do research in Philosophy.One-on-one engagement with academics. And through that study, I got really interested and concerned about sustainability and climate change. The Australian National University ANU is really a world center for climate change policy, Science, Politics, Research. I became exposed to some of the best researchers in Australia and the world on these issues and got really concerned, and that motivated me to dedicate more of my life, more of my work, in my study to climate change." 

Why did you apply to Crawford School? 

"Climate change was an issue that I wanted to know more about and I wanted to become a domain expert in.I wanted to be able to have an impact in policy debates and in end, in the political arena, on what is the most pressing issue of our time. I think. And so,  the Crawford School of Public Policy, well respected for having great research and great educational oppotunities, and I certainly have learned an awful lot about climate change in many respects in terms of Science, in terms of Policy design, Economics, Politics, and national security." 

Why did you choose the Master of Climate Change? 

"  The Master of Climate Change gave me the opportunity to look at climate change in all its respects. The climate change affects all sorts of issues, all sorts of parts of society, in really complicated ways and the Master of Climate Change gave me the opportunity to look at all of these different interacting facets. The economics, the politics, national security, energy  security, and to look at how climate change impacts on these domains, and how these domains will be shaped by climate change into the future. 

Did  you consider any other degrees? 

" The decision to do the Masters of Climate Change is really shaped by my passion for climate change, My passion for having an impact on policy debates and the politics, the diabolical politics of climate change, and the Master of Climate Change at the Crawford School at ANU was a really good opportunity to learn about these policy debates, and how I can have an impact . 

What was the process of applying to Crawford School? 

"The Master of Climate Change involves study in a wide range of areas, but there are relatively low prerequisites. It's accesible to people from a wide range of backgrounds, and that was really useful for me, coming from a philisophy background, I know how to think critically, and question things, but perhaps don't know a lot of the detai in, for example, mathematical economics." 

Can you describe a typical day at Crawford School? 

"One of the real benefits of doing the Masters of Climate Change to the Crawford School is that it was really flexible, so typical day, I might go to work in the morning and then come to a seminar with Professor Frank Jotzo, or Stephen Howes, on principles of climate economics, then I might go to the computer lab and download some articles from the library, and print them out and read them. Sit in the garden or sit at the cafe, and read some articles, then I might go to a conference or a lecture from a visting academic, or a dignitary or diplomat talking about Interantional principles or developments in the climate change debate, and always ised to like to try to ask them the most difficult question I could think of, which didn't always go down so well.

What skills will this degree help you develop? 

My main objective in doing the Master of Climate Change is to have a broad range of knowledge across the different domains that climate change will impact, so that I can advocate for sensible policies to deal with this issue, but also to challenge the misleading claims put forward by vested interests, so the knowledge that I've gained in the Master of Climate Change has enabled me to go to government consultations and go head-to-head with the oil and gas industry to challenge the claims of the coal industry about their size  in the Australian economy, and to show that renewable energy is plausible, cheap, and is the only way forward, for Australia. My research has been published in newspapers internationally, and nationally. I've been on TV and radio interviews, and the research that I did and the study I did here at the ANU and at the Crawford School of Public Policy has been really central to that.  

What are your future career aspirations? 

" The knowledge that I've gained at the Crawford School, through the Master of Climate Change really opens up a wide range of options for me, so I'm passionate abour research and about communicating research effectively, to have political impact. That's what we do at the Australia Institute, and I think that's a large part of what the Crawford School tries to do as well.. I'm looking forward to moving between academia, the public service potentially,the political world, and in the Australia Institute, being in between all those different worlds, facilitating knowledge transfer and also being able to challenge misleading claims that are unfortunately, all too prevalent in the climate change space." 

What has been your favourite thing about Crawford School? 

" There's too many things to list, but I'll try to.. it was great to meet a wide range of people from all over the world and all over Australia, with a wide range of expertise and backgrounds and passions. It's really excellent to have engagement with leading researchers on different parts of the climate change issue. "