Jenny Fraser completed her MSc in Water Security and International Development from the University of East Anglia in September 2013. She first heard about the program through the IISD climate-l listserv, and then stumbled across it again when searching online for graduate options in the UK. Jenny also knows two people who has previously attended UEA, one with a Ph.D. from the School of Development, and both spoke highly of their experiences.
Jenny came to Norwich from Canada, after more than a decade as a climate change adaptation specialist in British Columbia's Ministry of Environment. Thanks in part to the MSc, she now has a new position as a senior policy advisor in the Water Protection and Sustainability Branch of the Ministry. The branch leads development and implementation of British Columbia’s new Water Sustainability Act (WSA) and related regulations. The WSA received Royal Assent in Fall 2014 and will come into effect early in 2016. It introduces some innovations – including protection for environmental flows, consideration of water in land use decisions, stricter regulation in regions of the province that face multiple pressures, and scope for a range of governance approaches. Jenny is part of the team leading engagement with provincial water stakeholders and First Nations on the development of supporting regulations and policies related to the above innovations.
Of her time at UEA, Jenny says "UEA gave me an opportunity to gain and/or improve upon my academic skills – taking notes, studying for exams, and evaluating academic articles. I also became competent with Excel and learned how to use theory as a framework through which to evaluate a real-world initiative. My biggest takeaway was the realization that the academic literature has much to offer practitioners and decision-makers, that most practitioners have little or no access to academic/empirical knowledge, and that we need to address this gap before we can even begin to solve the problems of the world. I also credit the broad knowledge of contemporary water issues I gained from the WS program with helping me obtain my current job.
I greatly appreciated the willingness of Mark, Bruce, and the rest of the water security group to include students in social events, and to integrate business and pleasure. I loved the Norfolk countryside, the historic buildings, the hedgerows, and the 60-mile Peddlers’ Way hike I did with three other WS students. I enjoyed everything about living in the city centre, in particular the market, the mix of historic and contemporary buildings, the river walk, and being able to walk everywhere. On campus I appreciated being able to look out over the field and broad while working in the library. Also the knowledgeable and patient people at the computer help desk!"
To those starting a masters programme with the Water Security Research Centre, Jenny says "I used my year at UEA to read broadly on many issues related to water security, and through this reading gained insight into the ‘big picture’ on global sustainability, including competing beliefs about potential solutions. I’m now more able to understand current events – for example the recent acquisition of a controlling share in the Canadian Wheat Board by the Saudi government – in a broader context. However, this broad scope made it challenging to focus on a dissertation topic. If I were starting my year at UEA again, I would advise myself to focus, in my papers and other assignments during the taught portion of the program, on the same general topic, in order to become more familiar with a specific literature and the gaps in that literature. My experience in government is that to build a career it’s important to supplement academic learning with a specific skill, or to become an expert on something."