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Current PhD Students

Jacob Obodai

While studying at The Open University, I have never once felt like a ‘student’ but rather a colleague and a member of my discipline.

Hi, my name is Jacob Obodai and I am a third year full-time PhD student in Geography at The Open University.

In 2017, I assisted my wife as her driver during her STEM PhD fieldwork and for the first time, I visited some of the most remote places in Ghana. Surprisingly, these areas were a host to rich minerals and agricultural produce and yet the people living there were impoverished and had poor infrastructure. I was captivated by these observations and decided to find out more from the Social Sciences perspective. I delved into the literature and found that the impacts of mining on food security outcomes have not been fully explored. Thus, I set out to critically understand this relationship and to provide theoretical and empirical insights to inform policy decisions. My study employs a combination of remote sensing/Geographical information System (GIS), quantitative and qualitative techniques and is guided by a novel blend of the political ecology and capability approaches.

The Open University brought light to my newfound obsession by funding my research in 2019 and the journey has been nothing short of excitement, new insights, great exposure, collegiality and in-depth understanding, within a conducive learning atmosphere. My experience at The Open University is one that cannot be described wholly. To be fully understood one must experience the same! The Open University offers me access to state-of-the-art tools for my research, including access to the very latest software which has greatly assisted me in my data analysis and offered me great confidence for working in the industry after the completion of my study.

The great training opportunities both within and outside The Open University have enhanced my understanding on different subject matters (both general and specific to my field of study). While studying at The Open University, I have never once felt like a ‘student’ but rather a colleague and a member of my discipline. My awesome supervisors (Professor Shonil Bhagwat and Professor Giles Mohan) have offered constructive feedback to improve my research and have been available on every step of the journey. In fact, I have had supervision meetings more than the recommended 10 times per year which have propelled me to work hard and achieve more despite the Covid-19 impediments.

I can go on and on with my exceptional experience at The Open University, but time and space won’t permit me. You need to experience same for yourself if you are considering enrolling for your PhD.

Jodie Bettis

... with the flexibility and support that the OU Graduate School give, I would not want to be a PGR anywhere else.

My name is Jodie Bettis, and I am a first generation OU graduate and part-time PhD student in the Department of Geography.

I left school at 16 with a handful of GCSEs and after travelling the world for a few years decided I wanted to work in the environment sector but had no clue how to get a job protecting the planet.

In 1996, I wandered in to an OU open day in Milan, Italy, and signed up for a science module, S510 Into Science. I had joined the OU family! I graduated five years later with a BSc Honours (Open) and a Diploma in Pollution Control whilst working as an analytical chemist in the contaminated land testing industry – a job I would never have got without the OU.

After a stint of voluntary work at a Himalayan ecovillage, I decided to switch to the not-for-profit sector. So, I returned to the OU to study environmental policy and in 2007 was awarded an MA in Environment, Policy and Society. I went to work at a UN environmental NGO and then became CEO of a wildlife and countryside charity. Again, jobs only made accessible to me through my OU life.

Now, after a break to start a family, I am back researching how to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. My PhD thesis explores the criminalisation of environmental destruction through the introduction of ecocide law. I am aiming to define the principles of ecocide, review ecocide law in different geographic contexts, and assess the practical implications of defending nature should the crime of ecocide be introduced in the UK.

As a part-time researcher my project could take until 2028! But with the flexibility and support that the OU Graduate School give, I would not want to be a PGR anywhere else.

Current students

Francis Appiah

Robert Butler

Anasatsia Harrison

Sarah Hartmann

Norman Panganiban

Anuja Prashar

Tarshish Thekaekara

Claire Wellesley-Smith

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