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Creating change around the world with sustainable design

This grad uses her degrees to help small communities overseas.

Banner image, from left: Volunteers Holly Thurston-Doyle, Emily Hunt and Millie Knott.

Millie Knott’s decision to study Architecture and  Design and Philosophy at the University of Tasmania has taken her all over the world.

Millie has a lot of interests, but she decided to follow her passions for environmental design.

“I was learning a lot about sustainability and how we can use our materials better.

Lots of what we did was very hands-on. There wasn’t a lot of essay writing but there was a lot of building, model making and drawing, which was cool.

“But what really grabbed me towards the end of my degree was social sustainability, how we can use design to try and solve problems. That’s a whole other side of sustainability that we miss a lot.”

As part of her degree, Millie was given the opportunity to study a Bachelor of Philosophy for no additional cost. She was able to combine the opportunities offered by the BPhil with her design knowledge to help small communities overseas develop their infrastructure.  

“I found out about groups like 'Aussie Action Abroad' while I was doing my Bachelor of Environmental Design.

“I thought that was a really cool hands-on way to start making some practical changes,” she said.

Millie Knott after being presented with a white scarf by her host family in Nepal. The scarf is a traditional gift given to a family member before they travel.

I told myself once I graduated I’d go overseas and do some volunteering and then managed to win a couple of awards and sway some grant money my way. When I did finish and realised that the BPhil gave me the opportunity to travel for credit, I did that.

The unit Professional Placement in Asia gave Millie the chance to actually live in a rural Asian community.

“The idea was that I could really get to know the community, rather than working on one big project with a big group of volunteers. I worked across multiple projects.”

She travelled to Nepal for two months in second semester last year and lived and worked there, learning about the community she lived in. And this year Millie returned to work on another project.

“I worked across two different schools that were doing building reconstruction and one other very small school to help them build up their English teaching program with a lot of resources I'd brought from home from friends who are teachers and speech pathologists.

“I also worked a bit at a monastery helping them rebuild roads so the materials could come in for other projects.”

Millie is already planning to return so she can keep helping the Nepalese community.

“We fundraised from home and I went back in Easter break this year and did more work.

“I’ve done quite a bit of travel before but I’d never been that fully immersed in a community and lived with local people and done things their way,” she said.

It sounds very clichéd but it was absolutely life changing.

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