Helen Steen


Oberursel, Germany

"An introduction to sustainable development during an Environmental Quality Management course placed emphasis upon industry, environmental management systems, scientific and technological solutions but what about sustainable development in a broader sense? When I saw this distance learning course being offered by the Centre for Mountain Studies and looked around me at my almost empty nest (my  last remaining daughter was about to leave home) I decided to sign up in 2012. I had no real expectation at the beginning that I would have the ability or the stamina to complete a full master’s degree, which I did in 2015, however with every new module my level of interest in the study material grew.

I chose the Sustainable Deer Management and the Sustainable Land Use and Renewable Energy as my optional modules. These modules were challenging with often lively sometimes confrontational discussions on Blackboard.

The Research Methods and Techniques module set the stage and prepared me for my dissertation entitled ‘Stories going Wild,’ where I applied an interpretive phenomenological approach of narrative analysis to investigate the values people place upon wild land. This method of collecting and analyzing data is a far cry from the effluent and waste water sampling, chemical analysis of the reductionist world of environmental science from where I sprung. It is testimony to the quality of the teaching, course content and the specific distance learning methodology that the UHI employ that I was able to achieve this critically important transition.

I would strongly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in the future of people and wildlife in mountains, islands and other fragile areas."