VCSIA winner — Annika Høi
Whilst there are many approaches to tackling climate change, I am most interested in making space for people to work on their interests within climate change and environmentalism. To tackle climate change, I believe we need a varied approach by a diverse group of people — it is only by considering problems from multiple perspectives that we can come closer to an idea of the truth, or at least a better, more rounded solution. My ultimate goal is to empower everyone to use their specific expertise to contribute to the cause.
Being from Denmark, the importance of the environment around me has been at the heart of my education. I was given the opportunity to work on multidisciplinary projects that attempted to tackle and understand climate change and its effects from different angles: scientific, poetic, social, the list goes on. I am an English undergraduate student, and whilst English as a field is not always associated with work on climate change I have been able to use a lot of ecocriticism in my studies, as well as take part in climate change initiatives at the university such as Engage for Change where I was part of a group that analysed and tried to reduce energy consumption in colleges. Seeing how I can be involved in the work of fighting climate change, and more importantly, seeing my peers use their expertise and interests to approach climate change in a myriad of different ways e.g., some of the peers that worked with me on the engage for change project were philosopher students, engineering students, biology students, and they all contributed a different skillset, has made me realise how important it is to give all students, all people, a voice in the shaping of their own education, and especially in the work of environmentalism.
I have used my passion for environmentalism in my work with Cambridge Zero, where I surveyed the student population on their attitudes to their degrees and how it could/should interact with the topic of climate change and environmentalism. It was amazing to see both the enthusiasm to learn about climate change in the student population as well as the creativity of students’ ideas on how to incorporate it into their specific degree and interests. I used the results of this research to create a report and a presentation that conveys student attitudes and opinions so that it can be used to inform the education on offer. Throughout this year the project has developed, and in a research group we have conducted student focus groups to get a deeper understanding of the needs for education on climate change and environmentalism. As this project continues to expand, I hope to be able to positively influence the space that climate change and environmentalism takes up at the University of Cambridge, and to continue to give as much room as possible for all the voices of the university to be heard.
The intersectionality of environmentalism, and its importance more broadly, first became clear to me when I was working on a different passion project. Throughout 2020/2021, I was part of a research group at the Cambridge Centre of Governance & Human Rights. I worked on translating a digital toolkit into German to make it more accessible for human rights practitioners across the globe to access and use for their crucial work. I then interviewed a human rights practitioner from South Africa to better understand this kind of work, and what sort of aid and tool would help them. My team and I presented our work, both the translation work and the interview-research, to the UN Human Rights Office, which works with these issues on a larger scale.
I am very grateful to have been nominated for this award, but also incredibly humbled and aware that all the social work that I have been fortunate enough to take part in and learn from is only possible because of the amazing work that other people at this university, and in the world, have done. I am a piece of a beautiful puzzle, and I hope I can continue to do work that contributes to this wonderful movement. In the future, I hope to use my interests, in language, literature and more recently coding and data, to tackle climate change and to create more spaces and more encouragement for others to do the same.