SEI: Could you tell us a little bit about your background and what appealed to you about working at the Sydney Environment Institute?
Emma Holland: I have an editorial and communications background, and in recent years, I became increasingly keen to shift my focus towards the environmental space. Going back, my first job out of university was at a photography foundation and publisher in New York City. Living in NYC and working on photography books was a truly inspirational experience. Once my visa ended, I moved to London and continued working in publishing and the arts for several years. As I have British parents, the UK will always be a second home to me. I later moved back to Sydney and worked my way into environmental communications via food media and digital marketing.
I wanted to use my skills (and love of words) in a career that had social impact and purpose. It took me a little while to realise what that meant for me, personally. SEI was on my radar for a while, particularly as a sustainability student. During lockdown, I started to engage more in SEI’s articles, events and podcasts. I was impressed by SEI’s multidisciplinary approach to contemplating and addressing the multitude of environmental issues we currently face. I appreciated SEI’s unique thinking about such issues, as well as the ability to champion diverse voices and undertake collaborative projects. To move towards a more sustainable world, we must rethink all the systems at play in our world and actively engage the public in a meaningful way. We need to rebuild our relationship with the natural world. I wanted to be a part of the incredibly important work at SEI and the opportunity to join the team has been a dream come true.
You are currently completing a Master of Sustainability at the University of Sydney. What inspired you to pursue studies in this space?
I was inspired to study sustainability due to a desire to learn. I was impressed by the multidisciplinary aspect of the Master of Sustainability program, as it goes far behind environmental science. Also, I’ve always had an interest in food and the ethical and cultural decisions around what we eat, so I was excited to learn about food sustainability. But honestly, I was also motivated by my own frustration and disillusion. In my first intro class, several students mentioned their desire to take meaningful action towards combating our climate crises, particularly as we had just experienced the awful Black Summer bushfires. There was a real sense of urgency due to inaction from the top down. The need to feel useful and have purpose in this space resonated with me. I wanted to combine knowledge from the degree with my communications background. The power of communication and education to enact real change cannot be underestimated.
The more I learn about sustainability, the more I understand how these issues are systemic and highly complex. From politics and media to ecosystems and public health, sustainability touches everything. It has been humbling to recognise how much more I have to learn.
Outside of your work and studies, what are your passions and interests?
I believe it is important to engage in the world around us. I’m passionate about making my own contribution towards making the world a better place, no matter how small it may seem at times. I feel lucky that my work/study and passions/interests cross over. Outside of work, I enjoy the sense of freedom and exploration that travel can bring. I miss that! However, as the pandemic has impacted our ability to move as freely, I’ve felt both an appreciation for Sydney and a lingering desire to change scenes. I also love to spend time in nature, to cook and to read. I like environmental books, but I tend to seek out books that provide a sense of escapism into a different world. Eco-anxiety is a real thing!
Emma Holland is the Content Editor and Communications Officer at the Sydney Environment Institute. She has an editorial and communications background, and has worked in roles across Sydney, London and New York. Her work has included environmental communications in the public sector, content marketing, and editorial positions in arts publishing. Emma holds a BA Media and MA Publishing, and is completing the Master of Sustainability program at the University of Sydney. She is passionate about communicating environmental issues, with a particular interest in how we can transition to more sustainable, equitable and healthy food systems.
Header image: pink blossoms on tree with raindrops, by Susanne Alexander via Unsplash.