When Robin Pianosi started a master of arts degree in environmental policy (MAEP) at Grenfell Campus in 2019, she thought she would finish the program and then return to her career in Ottawa as a policy analyst with the federal government.
COVID-19 had other plans for her.
“The pandemic really altered my course . . . when I came to the MAEP program, my intention was to go back to the federal government as quickly as possible and continue with the career I had started,” said the new fall graduate, who officially completes her degree on Oct. 22 during Memorial University’s in absentia convocation.
“COVID-19 has derailed me a bit. For now, I’m volunteering with a policy transparency non-governmental organization and working part time as a researcher with the Environmental Policy Institute while I try and figure out my next move.”
Originally from Odessa, Ont., Ms. Pianosi says she hadn’t originally planned to come to Newfoundland and Labrador, until she met a student who had attended Grenfell and who spoke highly of it.
“I had never considered going to Newfoundland and was planning on getting a master’s in Ottawa a few years down the line. But the affordability of Grenfell plus its small class sizes made it really appealing.”
Ms. Pianosi holds a bachelor of social science (hons.) degree specializing in international conflict and human rights from the University of Ottawa. During and after her undergraduate degree, she worked at Global Affairs Canada on two teams in similar capacities: first in the Office of the Chief Economist and then in the International Assistance Policy Coordination Bureau.
“In both of these roles, I supported senior analysts in the creation, implementation and communication of policy documents,” she said. “The most notable projects with which I was involved include Canada’s CETA tracking and analysis framework in 2017, Canada’s first Voluntary National Review, presented at the United Nations in July 2018, and, in 2019, Canada’s international engagement strategy for Agenda 2030.”
‘Beyond the usual scope’
This experience made her a perfect fit for the MAEP program.
“The opportunity to engage in a variety of research projects relating to marine and rural issues greatly increased my familiarity with Canadian environmental issues on a minute level,” said Ms. Pianosi. “During this degree, I worked as a research assistant for three professors on an array of projects, ranging from fisheries sustainability to rural aging-in-place policies, and I served as the president of the Grenfell Graduate Student Society.”
Her work as a research assistant focused on three main projects: Rural Aging-in-place Policy Solutions; International Engagement with Policy Regulations Relating to Emissions from the Fisheries Industry; and Rural Communities’ Experiences with Potable Water Dispensing Units in the Context of COVID-19.
“Each of these projects required research and engagement beyond the usual scope of this degree, and I have had the opportunity to build databases, conduct research interviews and engage with municipal officials regarding their policy needs.”