Master’s student in Health Humanities, and Arts and an Edinburgh Earth Fellow, Alys Daniels-Creasey, shares her experiences and interest in ‘people’s lens’ climate research and her journey to the Edinburgh Earth Initiative.

Edinburgh Earth Fellow Alys Daniels-Creasey

Alys’ interest to learn about people and her fascination to research inequalities in society motivated her to pursue an undergraduate degree in Sociology. After her degree, she started a career as a Social and Environmental Researcher with the James Hutton Institute and worked on people and environment-related projects in Scotland.

Her projects looked at how people shape the environment they live in and how places can shape the people who live there, with a special focus on people’s relationships to society. This work broadened her horizon when it comes to social research and prompted her to return to university to pursue a research-based Master’s in Health Humanities, and Arts. She felt there was no better place to do this than the prestigious University of Edinburgh.

Alys’ journey to the Edinburgh Earth Initiative

Alys’s interest in social and environmental research and climate change influenced her decision to join the Edinburgh Earth Initiative as an Earth Fellow.

Alys had in the past carried out climate research. She always approached this with a human lens, thinking about the experiences of individual people in relation to climate change. She says: “I’m interested in the aspects of climate change that are also relevant to people. Having done a Social Sciences degree, I’ve always got that people element in my work and how these things impact different communities, groups and individuals.”

To her, joining the Earth Initiative was also an opportunity to learn in a practical way, outside the walls of the classroom. She is also particularly interested in one of the Earth Initiative themes ‘Health in a Warming World’, which she feels combines her interests in people and climate change.

“EEI brings together the values that I hold dear. The value of thinking about people and the environment as both being important things – how they relate to each other and how we can elevate people’s stories while keeping the climate crisis also, as an important thing.”

UNCOVER, Fossil-Fuel.Ed, and Adapt.Ed

Alys is working on several projects at the Edinburgh Earth Initiative. She is part of the UNCOVER project which is working with a group of researchers from the Usher Institute to carry out research into rapid evidence reviews for climate and health-related projects.

She is also part of the Fossil-Fuel.Ed project, where she’s delving into archival documents to uncover more about the University of Edinburgh’s historic contribution to fossil fuel development, and to find untold histories from within the University related to colonialism, racism, and sexism.

Alys and her team are looking to plan events and work with other similar networks such as Gender.Ed, Race.Ed, and other groups around the University. She is also involved in the Adapt.Ed project which builds a network of researchers working on climate change and adaptation at the University. Alys is also a member of the communications team.

Engaging students through the Edinburgh Earth Initative

To Alys, the Edinburgh Earth Initiative is important because it is facilitating a network of researchers and academics across the University as well as engaging students to take part in climate change research.

“Engaging students in these conversations and making sure their voices are heard is important. It’s impressive what the Earth Initative has managed to do in such a short time already.”

She also recognises that universities and academia have a crucial role to play in addressing climate change, as they pave the way for new knowledge and learning.

“Creating courses that are well-informed by current climate change research and movements allows you to create well-informed Alumni, that can carry on this knowledge to their careers”.

A part of a multi-disciplinary team

During her fellowship, Alys is most excited about meeting new people, working alongside people from different disciplines and being able to be part of creating interdisciplinary networks.

“A lot of the good projects and good ideas come out of the gaps between disciplines, and I don’t think you really find those until you start talking to people from other disciplines. Personally, I’m enjoying having those conversations with people who study different subjects or who come from very different backgrounds and experiences – EEI has very much that atmosphere”.

What’s next?

After her studies, Alys is looking forward to continuing to pursue her research interest in social and environmental research. She is also keen to do a PhD in the future. When Alys is not busy researching, she is busy bouldering. “I love climbing. Getting over a fear of falling every time, that’s something that I enjoy and I’m managing to keep doing”.