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A climate for change

Charlotte Jones

Westpac Scholar Charlotte Jones is focused on the next generation.

“Take all the chances you can, go further, learn more, change lives.”

These are the words that University of Tasmania postgraduate student and alumna Charlotte Jones carries with her as she embarks on an exciting new chapter as a Westpac Scholar.

They were uttered to her by a girl in Kiribati, a nation made up of 33 low-lying islands in the Pacific Ocean, which is recognised as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.

“Her words remind me of my responsibility to use further education and research to empower others,” Charlotte said.

Her determination to deliver social change and fight injustices was first fostered as a child when her grandmother encouraged her to crochet blankets for the local women’s shelter, and she collected books for a school in Vanuatu.

At every opportunity since, Charlotte has sought to use her skills to support others.

Now her focus is turning to young people and the ever-present threat of climate change. There is growing evidence that young people are deeply alarmed, anxious, and angry about the future environment.

“Climate change is an environmental, economic, and social crisis and young Australians are at the precipice of that,” Charlotte said.

“My research will explore the role of emotions in shaping understandings of and responses to our global futures.

“It will help inform policies and empower communities to participate in shaping their collective futures.”

Her research received an extraordinary boost when she was awarded a prestigious Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship.

The opportunity, afforded to young people who are committed to finding creative ways to solve problems facing our community, provides $120,000, a bespoke leadership development program, and a lifelong membership to a network of like-minded individuals.

For Charlotte it will enable her to complete her PhD at the University of Tasmania’s School of Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences in her hometown of Hobart, whilst tapping into a global network of Westpac Scholars.

“Being located in Tasmania can, at times, be isolating — particularly during a global pandemic. The opportunity to be part of the Westpac 100 Scholars Network will be invaluable in being able to bring new ideas to my communities,” she said.

Charlotte will interview young people and community leaders to gain a deeper understanding of people’s lived response to climate change to inform policy, planning,  and mitigation action.

She will also travel overseas to undertake an internship at an international sustainability non-profit organisation.

“I will contribute a unique understanding of how nature  and culture interact and how these interactions can be better managed to serve more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable futures,” she said.

Charlotte said the scholarship offers the invaluable opportunity to learn in a community with diverse minds,  to grow her understanding about her own skills and abilities, and to give generously to those around her.

CEO Westpac Scholars Trust Susan Bannigan said the opportunity to build strong leadership skills was one of  the key components of the scholarships.

“We’ve worked closely with our university partners and Westpac to deliver transformational programs that not only challenge the Scholars’ thinking, but also increases their access to new networks and opportunities.” Ms Bannigan said.

The University of Tasmania is grateful for the incredible partnership offered by the Westpac Scholars Trust and invites you to meet our other Westpac Scholars.

Image: PhD candidate Charlotte Jones has climate change mitigation squarely in her sights.
Published on: 29 Jun 2021 11:45am