Department of Geography student Annette Green told us about her fellowship at The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), where she worked with some well-traveled knowledgeable colleagues in the field of conservation and development:
“IIED are a leading institution in both conservation and development – they place helping people (especially poverty alleviation) at the heart of everything they do. This aligns well with my own principles on approaching conservation. My supervisor has also worked very closely with this institution before, and was able to recommend this institution to me for my fellowship.
The aims of the fellowship were:
- Writing up EbA case studies for the Panorama platform
- Producing monthly PCLG journal digest x3 and newsletter x2
- Writing a short chapter on conservation corridors for an NR Issues paper
- Contributing to Food Demand and Forests project report on Tanzania relating to conservation corridors
Overall the fellowship met all the aims outlined at the beginning of my time there. However, in the end I did not do the monthly PCLG journal digests or newsletters . Instead I spent a lot of time revising and improving six training modules for Community Conservation Wardens for the Uganda Wildlife Authority: Community Conservation, Effective Communication, Facilitation Skills, Gender, Community Mobilisation and Conflict Resolution.
I have gained a fuller understanding of how an organisation like IIED functions day-to-day, what their priorities are and how they determine them. It has really driven home to me the importance of being disciplined, organised and working independently. I also learnt about the importance of individuals as ambassadors for IIED’s work – it was amazing to hear about all the different events, discussions, conferences, workshops etc that IIED staff attend to present and espouse IIED’s core values.
My confidence has increased, and it was also an excellent networking opportunity. I gained more experience in working independently, but to a specifications that were different to what I was used to – for example writing for websites, short pieces for IIED ‘success stories’ and context-setting pieces for issue papers. It was extremely useful to do some writing for a non-academic audience.
IIED also provided me with in-house training on ‘Writing for Impact’ which was very well-run and genuinely helpful. This was a half-day training in which attendees were familiarised with the principles of effective communication and why it is important. The trainer used real-life examples from IIED’s own literature of good and poor writing for impact. The training concluded with a short and highly-effective exercise in which we put what we had learnt into practice.
I believe the networking opportunity will help my future career – everyone that works in IIED is well-travelled and knows a lot about other organisations and individuals working in both conservation and development. I met many people who shared with me their own experiences of completing their PhD which was very helpful and encouraging. It helped me to gain a better understanding of the alternatives to academic careers and the different paths people took in their careers.
The half-day ‘Writing for Impact’ training I attended was great and I am trying to apply the principles of clear communication I learnt in the workshop to my own academic writing. It really helped me to be more reflective on my own writing style, to be a bit tougher with myself (in a way that is productive, not paralysing), and to pare down my writing so that it is concise and clear.
Collaborating with IIED would definitely benefit others. It is a great way to hone your skills in working independently and motivating yourself. The Biodiversity Team at IIED do so much interesting and varied work and the people there are very passionate about what they do – it is very inspirational. I would recommend undertaking an fellowship to other ESRC students – it’s a unique chance to get some space from your own research, allowing you to gain perspective on it, and (hopefully) place it in the bigger picture.
Annette Green’s fellowship with IIED took place betwen January and April 2019