The Office for Environmental Programs opened for business in 2002 with 32 students. It grew slowly at first and then suddenly the word got out. Natalie Jamieson was brought in as Associate Director of the OEP in 2008 to help manage the growth, and Arnaud Gallois came on board as Academic Coordinator in 2009. These two people have been the academic backbone of the OEP for almost half of its life. They have helped the program grow to over 400 students from all around the world, supporting the OEP through three different Directors and three different custodial faculties.
In the last three years Natalie has taken on leadership of the OEP research project subjects. These subjects are an incredible challenge to teach: students with great ambitions in a thousand creative directions, supervisors and examiners from around the faculty to support, cajole and – at times – keep in line, and too much thankless administration. Natalie has worked systematically, thoroughly and wisely to create clarity and order in a complex system, support students and supervisors through thick and thin, and carefully negotiate the academic challenges of developing and assessing such a diverse cohort of students.
Over the same period, Arnaud has led the core subject Sustainability Governance and Leadership. He took on this responsibility at a time when the subject was growing fast and needed a major overhaul. He has developed a coherent academic narrative for the subject, challenged students to engage with new conceptions of sustainability, established meaningful assessment tasks, and enabled the subject to play a key role in student transition to graduate study. His passion for sustainability, reflective teaching practice, and expertise in student learning have made the subject sing and turned it into an inspiring experience for our commencing students.
Throughout this time both Natalie and Arnaud have also served wholeheartedly through the exhausting seasons of course advising for new students, the ongoing task of student recruitment and selection, and myriad other academic tasks keep the OEP functioning. Even in the mundane, their commitment to environment, justice and students has shone through and inspired colleagues and students alike.
The OEP is going through a period of rapid change. Changes in policy, institutional arrangements and the nature of academic work mean we will see several changes to OEP staff over the coming months. As part of this we farewell Natalie and Arnaud at the end of 2015. The OEP is a close-knit community – this feels a bit like farewelling family members and I know many students and colleagues will want to join me in acknowledging the significant contributions of Natalie and Arnaud, and the special role they have played within the OEP and the wider University community. Thank you Natalie and Arnaud.
From the Director, A/Prof Kathryn Williams, Office for Environmental Programs