PG Dip Countryside Management

Campus: Distance Learning
Class of 2019

"As a distance learning student it is really important to use all opportunities to connect with fellow students. Use social media to stay in touch - to bounce ideas off each other, moan and offer mutual support."

Des worked as a civil servant in both Brussels (where he had met his wife) and Dublin prior to studying with SRUC. When his wife obtained a new posting to Brussels, Des decided to take a career break to look after his two daughters and use the opportunity to retrain.

“I was looking after my daughters so I needed to find a suitable distance learning programme,” says Des. “During my civil service career I had always found environmental policy matters particularly interesting so I decided on that broad area of study. Not having a science background, there were a number of programmes which were not suitable for me. SRUC’s course didn’t require a strong scientific background plus it had broad coverage in its content along with a combination of practical elements and policy issues, so it fitted the bill.”

In terms of returning to the world of work Des feels that the PG Dip helped “demonstrate that I had continued with my professional development while being a stay-at-home dad. It also helped that people in the field know about SRUC”.

Des started work as the Thriving Green Spaces Project Officer for Edinburgh City Council in November 2019. The project, which is co-funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Trust aims to create a new strategy and vision for the green spaces in Edinburgh – one of eight local authorities chosen to explore innovative solutions for parks and green spaces.

“We are working towards producing a 30-year strategy which will align with the overall vision for the city of Edinburgh in 2050,” says Des. “We are collaborating with a number of organisations including the Scottish Wildlife Trust, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh & Lothian Greenspaces Trust, Edinburgh Greenspace Forum, and Greenspace Scotland. Community involvement is also a big part of the project. My work involves meeting lots of different stakeholders, which I really enjoy.”

Des’s role on the project involves developing the overall policy, as well as having specific responsibility for looking at governance of greenspaces and finding ways of diversifying income and funding for parks.

“The project has a number of themes – for example conservation which is one of the larger ones. Many of the themes were dealt with during my postgraduate studies, which has been helpful to be able to get on top of the subject matter quickly. The project also expects us to share what we have learnt in the process with other local authorities.”

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