A day in the life of a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment student

Last updated: 12th March 2024

Emi Sugiyama is a Sustainability Consultant with PwC Japan and a student on the Master of Studies in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) at The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Emi shared her experience of the programme and has detailed what an average day looked like for her during her final residential workshop in Cambridge, UK.

My day begins… with preparing my breakfast in a nice and quiet shared kitchen at Wolfson College. A huge salad, fruit, Japanese rice, and miso soup are a must-have for me to feel relaxed and stay healthy during the entire course. I have a lovely 20-minute walk from the college to the engineering building around 8:30 am, hearing birds chirping, seeing cows eating grass, and reflecting on what I learnt the previous day.

Wolfson college

The workshop starts with… a series of lectures given by academics or business professionals talking about topics in line with the main theme of each workshop. In the final workshop, the focus was on “Future Urban Environments” thus the examples of lectures included a talk about bio-based building materials given by Chloe Donovan from Natural Building System and “How to achieve the data-centric system and reduce PDF files” facilitated by Euan Mills the CEO of Blocktype. I am very inspired by these speakers not only in terms of what they have explained but also by how persuasive and passionate they are in their presentations. The talks are followed by a Q&A session where students honestly share their own experiences. Sometimes, when the speaker does not have the answer to the question, insights and suggestions from other students are shared. This is one of the most exciting moments. The classroom is a 100% safe environment, and everyone is always willing to help each other out.

IDBE students punting

Between sessions I… use my break to the fullest potential! Since it was our final workshop, some of us strived to squeeze “Cambridge” activities in during the 60-minute lunch break. For example, I enjoyed with my peers the quick self-guided college tour on Day 5 and punting session on Day 6, both of which I must say became one of the most unforgettable experiences I have ever had.

After lunch… I have the group “studio” activities, where we work on materialising the brief and preparing for the presentations on the final day of the workshop. This is the time when we can experience how real interdisciplinary collaborations work with my group members having diverse professional and cultural backgrounds.

After the sessions finish… we have dinner together and time to socialise before the evening lecture starting at 7:30 pm. On days without such lectures, we enjoy one of our free nights by attending the formal dinner, which is another traditional “Cambridge” experience. In addition, in the July workshop, some of us attended a music event on Friday night which was held at the perfect time for us to celebrate all the hard work we have done for 2 years through dancing, singing, and screaming.

Wolfson room tour

After a day of learning…  I sometimes feel like a dried sponge being thrown in water as I learn so many things from the lecturers, cohort, and the IDBE team. I often feel more confident or excited than I was in the morning but sometimes I feel very disappointed by the lack of my skills (e.g., communication) compared to my peers. Under either circumstance, what I always do at the end of the day is write in my diary, which is quite helpful for me to reflect on takeaways after each workshop.

I am inspired to… think and act differently as an agent of change to achieve a sustainable future. The huge merit of the part-time course structure is the opportunity to apply what we have learnt to the real world immediately after we absorbed the lectures. I am now ready to share what I have learnt from this course in my sphere of influence as well as to spend more time reflecting on what I want to leave as a legacy for future generations, both of which are my immediate action plans after returning to Japan.

CISL’s Master’s and Postgraduate Certificate part-time courses focussed on Sustainability Leadership in the Built Environment are delivered via a blend of remote online learning and residential workshops in Cambridge. The two-year Master’s includes six week-long residential workshops in Cambridge and the nine-month Postgraduate Certificate has two week-long residential workshops.

Find out more and download the brochure here.

N.B. The information contained in this entry is provided by the above supplier, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie