Q1. Why did you apply for the Lab programme?
Doing a DPhil has been one of the best experiences of my life, but while engaging in my research, I often find myself thinking about how I am going to use my findings to have an impact. When I came across the Oxford SDG Impact Lab, I saw it as an incredible opportunity to learn how to bridge the gap between research and having a ‘real world’ impact. I was interested in learning from the seminars offered by the Lab to increase my skills in implementing research findings, and the idea of working with partners to create change. In addition to this, I was driven by the focus on the SDG’s. As a doctor by training, and now a researcher in the climate space, the SDG’s are something I work with everyday and have immense desire to see impact in. Finally, I was intrigued by the parallels in my own research, and the project that the Lab was engaged in with the United Nations and hoped to learn skills that could be transferable across both spaces. Despite the reasons, applying for the Lab was one of the best decisions I have made!
Q2. How would you describe your experience?
The Lab was one of the most impactful experiences I have had. I learnt so much and grew as a person in so many ways. The weekly seminars opened my eyes to different ways of thinking, of how to engage with a range of stakeholders. The field lab, where I joined a group of 5 fellows to conduct research for the UN on a tourism-specific framework for measuring sustainability, was one of the most influential periods of my life. I learnt how to deal with adversity when confronted with a range of experiences, I learnt about different cultures and how they view sustainability and the SDGs, I expanded my knowledge on sustainability in tourism and the challenges with it, and I gained friendships that will last a lifetime.
Q3. What was the highlight/s of the Lab experience for you?
The field lab was undoubtedly the highlight of the Lab experience. To conduct the research for the UN, I travelled to five different locations (Majorca, Tenerife, Jordan, Turkey, Rhodes Island) with another Fellow, where we interviewed a variety of tourism companies and explored the best ways to measure sustainability within the industry. It was fascinating to see the nuances in measuring sustainability within the industry – compare glamping in the desert with a 5-star all-inclusive resort – and the different cultural ideas of what sustainability means. This was eye-opening. I was also so grateful for the team of Fellows that I worked with on this project. I enjoyed every moment with them, we complimented each other so well, had different skills that were useful in the work we did, and I have gained life-long friends.
Q4. What has been the value of undertaking the Lab programme?
I think the lab challenged me the most in a personal capacity. Although the field lab was an incredible experience, it was not all smooth sailing; sometimes things did not go as planned, and this helped me to develop as a person, to deal with adversity, to work together with my team to overcome any issues. Experiencing the variety of different geographical settings and cultures also challenged my own views of the world, what sustainability means, and how the SDG’s fit into a global landscape. The Lab has given me insight on what I enjoy doing and made me realise what I value in life. It has helped me to further my understanding of the work that I do in my own PhD and how I might use my research to have impact in the world. It has also opened my views on different types of jobs that exist, and different countries that these can be done in. I hope to apply what I have learnt in any career that I take on in the future.
Anything else you would really like to add?
I would encourage anyone who wants to bridge the gap between research and impact and help shift the world closer to achieving the SDG’s to apply for the Oxford SDG Impact Lab!