Rachael Durrant

"I chose to study for this particular M.A. because I was interested in the learning framework provided by the Bulmer Foundation course. Whereas in Cambridge (where I studied for my first degree) the dominant learning style is top down and didactic, the mode of learning on the Bulmer Foundation course is student-focused.  The course is based on principles of learning-by-doing, critical reflection, creativity and open minded debate amongst peers.  I personally found this approach to be a breakthrough in many ways and a great complement to the styles of learning that I had experienced at previous times.  On another note, my choice of this course was driven by a mixture of personal conviction and professional desire to work towards a more sustainable future. 

The course was unique and excellent.  With lectures, tutorials, work placements, a team task and the final event and dissertation – it worked really well in terms of developing a range of different skills and abilities that gradually added together.  Coupled with the focus on critical reflection in the way that the course was assessed, this really put me in a position at the end of the course of feeling confident, motivated and ready to pursue the next steps in my career.  Also, during the course I met some fantastic people, including students, teachers, work placement hosts and other professional connections, that I would not have met on any other masters course.  I think that this owes to the special status of the Bulmer Foundation in Herefordshire and the real contribution that the course and students make to sustainable development in the region.  

Doing the course really helped me to shift gears in my professional and personal life. At the time of starting the course I had a strong desire to turn my own motivations and beliefs, which I felt were mostly latent, into actions.  Partly this was about working in an area that I cared about and partly this was about making a contribution in my own private life to a fairer, healthier, happier world.  Doing the course and achieving the MA helped me in both respects.  I continue to be more connected to my personal values in my professional work and to pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle than I was before. 

I am currently undertaking a PhD in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies at the University of Sussex and doing (a little) consultancy work on the side.  During the two years between graduating in 2008 and starting the PhD in 2010 I worked freelance as a research manager for a range of different clients, including Unilever, who hired me off the back of the work placement that I did during the course.  My first clientele were private sector, but later I worked for public and voluntary sector clients too.  All the work that I did was related to sustainable food and agriculture.  This led me on to being interested in civil society and sustainable food systems, which is the topic of my PhD."