In The Spotlight: Ana's Honours Project (Honours Master: Leadership, Making the Difference!)

I started the EES master in September 2018 and at the same time I applied to the Honours Master 'Leadership: making the difference!', for which I followed extra courses. Some of the courses were oriented to developing personal skills, like talking in public or working in teams, but there were also a variety of courses that compaginated very nicely with the EES master, like Climate law and policy, Thinking about Social Issues and Leading the Energy transition. It was definitely a challenge to follow the Honours program at the same time as the regular EES program, as they’re both quite demanding, but I really recommend doing it if you’re looking for an extra challenge. The final stage of the Honours program consists on developing your own project, according to your personal development plan. In my case, I wanted to develop my confidence when speaking in public, as well as to work in a multidisciplinary environment and learn how to communicate efficiently with people from different backgrounds. For my final project, I asked for help from the Green Office and together we came with a project about personal carbon footprint and the use of carbon footprint calculators. To complete my project, I had to do background research about the topic, and interview experts within the university. I also created a questionnaire with the help of a master student from Environmental Psychology, and I learnt a lot about how to translate science questions into public’s perception point of view. The questionnaire was sent to students from RUG, and the intention was to identify how environmentally friendly people perceive themselves and then to compare that to their day to day habits. It was quite interesting to see that many people see themselves as environmentally friendly individuals, but their habits don’t reflect this. Thanks to this project we realized that there’s a gap between what people know and what people perceive when it comes to how their actions impact the environment and how changing these habits can actually help combat climate change. With this project as a base, the Green Office will now look into options to motivate people to do a carbon footprint exercise and inform the public on how to make effective changes in their daily habits as to reduce their carbon footprint. I completed my final project at the same time I started my first research project from the EES master. My research is about mitigating carbon emissions in the Gulf of Mexico with the use of carbon capture and storage technologies. Combining both programs was at times challenging, but it never came to a point where I felt it wasn’t possible to do both of them, and the personal satisfaction plus benefits that come from adding the honours program to my curriculum make it all worth it!

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