Celebrating a decade of the MSc Water Science, Policy and Management

Alumni from across 10 years of the School of Geography and the Environment’s MSc Water Science, Policy and Management gathered in Oxford on 30 May – 1 June 2014 for a weekend packed with celebrations and networking. The Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton gave a special address and commended the course’s achievements.

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In 2004 when the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management (WSPM) was launched in response to global water security challenges, it was unique of its kind in offering a multi-disciplinary course with scientific depth and practical and policy relevance. Last weekend the course’s 10th anniversary was celebrated by 69 alumni and current students from 25 countries, 15 current and former teaching staff, and another 40 guests including supporters and sponsors.

The weekend event offered a rich array of activities and talks, with reflections from former and current course directors, shared experiences from alumni working around the world, insights from sponsors and employers, as well as plenty of networking opportunities, college dining, alumni-led discussions and a reception at the Museum of Natural History.

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton

Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor, spoke enthusiastically about the importance of WSPM. “Looking at the influence of graduates of the Masters programme and the roles that they are playing around the world is absolutely superb. It’s a magnificent example of the role that this great University can play when it really focusses its mind on issues of massive importance in the contemporary world. And there are few of greater importance than water.”

Alumni perspectives were given by Dr Alex Guerra Noriega (2005/06), Director, Private Institute for Climate Change Research (ICC), Guatemala; Amos Chigwenembe (2011/12), WASH specialist, Catholic Relief Services, Malawi; and Saima Mian (2011/12), Environmental Consultant, Woods Hole Group Middle East, Pakistan.

During a productive networking day held at Wolfson College, alumni identified six key water challenges and discussed ways in which the alumni network can work to address these: risk reduction, innovation, governance, infrastructure, the water-energy-waste nexus and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The alumni profiles are impressive in terms of diversity of organisations in which they now work, seniority of positions, and geographical spread of influence. “The best part is seeing how well the alumni have done” said Rachael McDonnell, the first director of the course. “Looking at their profiles – you see major organisations, major government roles, people taking on terrific responsibilities – and from talking to them I know that they are using the knowledge that they gained from those days in Oxford lecture theatres.”

Dr Rachael McDonnell and Professor Mike Edmunds

Professor Mike Edmunds and Dr Rachael McDonnell

The current WSPM class, just recovered from post-exam exhaustion, enjoyed this exciting welcome into the WSPM alumni network and took the opportunity to connect with water professionals from around the world.

Dr Katrina Charles, current Course Director said, “it was wonderful to welcome back alumni from across the 10 years of the course for our 10 year anniversary weekend. It was amazing to see where they went with their discussions around the key challenges in water. We look forward to continuing to work with our alumni to develop a stronger network for their career development and to support the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management as it enters its second decade.”

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