Ronnie Das | Environmental Systems/ Environmental Policy, Economics Minor | Class of 2009
Could you elaborate on how you are achieving an integration of art and science to inform the community on environmental topics while exploring the individual voice of the people and organizations that are making a difference around the world through your work and what do you enjoy most about your job?
Undergraduate degrees are split into two broad categories, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences, which is really unfortunate because the two actually overlap quite a bit. With a scientific backbone in Environmental Systems and the ability to creatively present information through Environmental Policy, UC San Diego provided me the skill set necessary to solve real-world issues. The path towards sustainability requires presenting information in an approachable and easy to understand way. Environmental solutions require everyone to participate from coal miners to politicians and from middle America to the Middle East, but those working on the cutting edge of scientific discovery and those who are making policy decisions are oftentimes miles apart with completely different motivations. Bridging the gap by giving an individual voice to the people and organizations making a difference around the world helps provide the necessary toolkit for voters, politicians, and governments to make more informed decisions. The art of science is teaching important information without overwhelming your audience about learning the solutions. The part of my job I enjoy most is teaching environmental topics while learning how to share that information in an effective way that is approachable for my audience. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
How did you first become interested in sustainability and why do you think it is important?
Everyone in the sustainability field has a moment where they are shaken into consciousness and make the switch from simple consumer to active participants in the global community around them. I became aware of sustainability and enthusiastic to make a difference after Hurricane Katrina, the magnitude of the hurricane was magnified by the warmer temperatures of the ocean due to climate change while the issues that happened in New Orleans were compounded by the degrading infrastructure that stemmed from economic inequality as well as social injustice. So I changed my major from Biology (Pre-Med) to Environmental Systems with a new understanding that in the midst of chaos, sustainability is the saving grace for an often overwhelming world. It is the single greatest opportunity to combine scientific innovation and cross-cultural communication with natural systems and biomimicry to alleviate social inequality and environmental issues. “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
What is the most valuable thing you learned while pursuing your degree in Environmental Systems/Environmental Policy at UC San Diego?
The most valuable thing I learned while pursuing my degree in Environmental Systems/Environmental Policy was how to learn. Most physical sciences are reactive with a narrow focus on molecular interaction, physiological mechanism, or physical structure. Environmental Systems/Environmental Policy proactively opens up an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the delicate interaction of science, culture, and economics to find holistic, reasonable, and ethical solutions. Pursuing a degree in Environmental Systems/Environmental Policy innately develops a unique learning style of approaching a wide range of subject matters from multiple perspectives to open up a world of opportunities. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”