Pannaga Narayana Prasad envisioned a career in sustainable development as a way of contributing to national development. Here she shares her experience at the University of Glasgow, U.K.

I worked as a developer with a multinational software company for three years after graduating with a B.E. in Electronics and Communication in Bangalore.

It was a great job, yet somewhere at the back of my mind I had this growing desire to help protect our fast-disappearing natural environment. I began searching for a master’s course which would help me turn my passion into a professional career. The University of Glasgow had this fascinating multi-disciplinary programme called M.Sc. in Environment and Sustainable Development, which specifically addresses the underlying connection between economic growth and the natural resources, and how we can achieve sustainable development. Though this was completely different from my engineering background, I knew this is what I wanted to study.

Informal approach

My lecturers were highly knowledgeable and used a very informal approach to teaching, encouraging a lot of discussion — global warming being the current ‘hot’ topic. Coming into such academic vigour, the stress is on independent study rather than long hours of teaching.

This helps you read widely and come to your own conclusions about issues. The university has a vast library and also organises a number of guest lectures by prominent experts on a variety of topics. The fun element of the campus life was via student parties and cultural events.

Glasgow is a lively, friendly city surrounded by beautiful countryside, with the highlands that has some truly exotic scenery. Accommodation is perhaps the most expensive component of living in the U.K. University rooms are the most convenient and hassle-free, though private flat-shares work out more economical. Cooking your own food is not difficult as all the major superstores stock Indian groceries and spices.

There are many Indian restaurants too. On the job front, those wishing to stay on in the U.K. must start applying for jobs 8-10 months before they graduate as the recruitment process is long and begins early.

Enriching

Living in a foreign country teaches you to be self-reliant, both on the personal and professional front. Studying in Scotland with classmates from Peru, China, the U.S., Nigeria, Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Russia and Japan has been an enormously enriching experience.

Now I wish to return to India and contribute to national development using renewable energy. Perhaps the most important piece of knowledge I have gained is that exponential growth of a materialistic economy cannot occur on a finite planet with finite resources. True development is not just about GDP growth but ensuring every citizen has basic health, education and good living standards.