Student Spotlight: Dona Van Eeden

Welcome to the Student Spotlight series! In these interviews, we will showcase the students representing each of the four Master tracks, part of the MSc in Urban Management and Development. We introduce you to Dona van Eeden from South Africa, who is a participant in the Urban Environment, Sustainability, and Climate Change Master track.

Dona's academic journey

Dona's academic journey has been nothing short of adventurous. She explored various studies before finding her passion in urban studies. It all began with her undergraduate studies in Biodiversity and Ecology at Stellenbosch University, followed by a postgraduate diploma in Sustainable Development and a postgraduate certificate of education, all at the same institution. 

The path to IHS

Dona has pursued different paths, including working as a journalist at an agriculture media house and interning in landscape and jurisdiction at the HCV Network. Additionally, she served as a research assistant at the Future Water Institute while completing her MPhil in Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Cape Town.

"While working at the Future Water Institute, I discovered my passion for urban studies!"

Her time at Cape Town sparked her interest in urban sustainability, encouraging her to explore programmes worldwide that could further enrich her understanding of urban development. Eventually, after some research, she found out about IHS and figured she will be a great fit for the Urban Environment Sustainability and Climate Change Master Track. She also obtained the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) Scholarship, which helped her fund her studies.

“Three words I’d use to describe the master track are engaging, international and challenging.”

Understanding the relationship between urban sustainability and climate change

Dona's experience at IHS has deepened her understanding of the relationship between urban sustainability and climate change. She found the first module, 'Urban Complexity,' particularly interesting, as it provided a comprehensive exploration of the multifaceted nature of urban systems. 

"It was so eye-opening and set the tone for the rest of the year – it’s all very complex!"

She has learned the importance that cities play in both contributing to climate change, while also being vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Donna emphasizes the importance of sustainable urban development as crucial for mitigating greenhouse emissions and adapting to climate change impacts, while creating more resilient and livable urban environments. 

When asked to to give some tips to future students who are planning to apply to IHS, Dona shared:

“I say go for it with all you have. Studying at IHS has been an incredible experience for so many different reasons, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.”

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