Last week I was fortunate to participate in the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists Master Class. It is a three day workshop aimed at improving the ability of postgraduate students to engage with public policy on the future of Australia’s land, water, coasts and biodiversity. The Master Class started with a field trip from “Cape to Cape” around Botany Bay led by respected coastal scientist and Wentworth Group Member, Professor Bruce Thom. Bruce gave us a broad introduction to the region from its geologic formation, through Indigenous and European history, to the present day coastal and catchment management issues with an array of interesting stops and stories along the way!
We scholars were a diverse group of nine PhD students from all over Australia studying disciplines ranging from environmental law, economics, habitat ecology, groundwater, conservation and coral reefs. We were given a challenging task to grapple with overnight and present the next morning: “What are the most significant issues facing natural resource management in Australia and what public policies would you implement to solve them over the next 50 years.” As you can imagine this stimulated a lot of thought, discussion and brainstorming!
The highlights of the course for me were learning from the experiences of the Wentworth Group Members and having the opportunity to ask questions and discuss important issues that are relevant, beyond the scope of any one PhD or research project, for the future of our nation; meeting, sharing ideas and getting to know the amazing group of scholars; and learning more about the inner workings of Government and policy, how these have evolved over the years and the role which science can, and should, play.
Soaking up the scenery of Cape Solander and the knowledge of our fearless guide Bruce Thom (centre).