ManorikaI entered MES at York in 2014 with an undergraduate degree in Forestry and Environmental Science with a minor in Chemistry. Needles to say, my science-oriented background greatly influenced my initial approach to planning, which was geared towards Environmental Planning. However, the first few compulsory courses at MES introduced me to interdisciplinary thinking and specially the integration of social sciences and natural sciences. Through this, I was able to expand my initial idea of planning by integrating social and ecological components into my area of concentration.

My broad area of study is Environmental Planning and Sustainable Development. Concepts such as resilience, systems thinking and ecosystem approach to health have greatly influenced my Major Research Project (MRP). In my MRP I aim to identify beneficial management practices that can be implemented in the Credit River watershed that have a beneficial effect on both ecosystems and human health and well-being. The research that I am conducting will feed into a larger project that is being done in collaboration with York University and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. The reason that I selected this area is because it builds upon my stronger area of expertise, which is natural sciences, but also incorporates social science aspects such as human health and well being into consideration.

The biggest lessons I have learnt so far in MES is that though we may come with a somewhat clear idea as to what we want to do in our 2 years, this may change as we progress, especially during the first year. I met a lot of interesting people with diverse backgrounds and expertise in different fields that influenced my own course of study. MES offers a lot of different courses, and though you may not have any prior background knowledge on that specific field, it just might turn out to be the most interesting and useful course you follow! This happened to me when I followed Land Use Planning Laws in my first year with no prior knowledge on law, but it turned out to be extremely useful throughout my planning studies. I also learnt that asking questions is always good. It develops a rapport with the professors, encourages interesting debates in the class and adds to class participation points!

As a concluding remark I would like to say that finding a supervisor who helped me focus on narrowing down my thoughts and ideas into a feasible research proposal was greatly beneficial to me. I hope to complete my research project successfully within the following months and finally be able to say that I am a MES graduate in Fall 2016!