Master of Development Studies

  • CRICOS Code: 031145D

The experience


Graduate profile: Elena Robertson – Program Specialist (Research, Policy and Practice), Edge Effect

Elena Robertson

Originally from the US, Elena Robertson knew she wanted to work in international development from the age of 16. By the end of her undergraduate degree, she’d undertaken field research in India, Thailand and Ghana – but after working in the international development sector for about three years in Vietnam and Cambodia, Elena decided to pursue a masters degree to deepen her theoretical knowledge and expand her professional network.

“I knew I wanted to pursue work in Southeast Asia,” she says, “and given the proximity of Australia to Southeast Asia as well as the many Southeast Asia experts at the University of Melbourne” decided to apply.

Prior to studying at Melbourne, Elena says she had little theoretical training in feminist and gender studies, but that her “passion for feminism and gender equitable development programming blossomed during [her] studies”.

“The most enjoyable aspects of the program were the professors, the coursework, and conducting field research for my minor thesis in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia,” Elena says. “In Cambodia I had the chance to meet with incredible feminists and gender equality activists and to hear about their experiences in the sector and as women in Cambodia, some of whom had experienced the Khmer Rouge.”

Now working for Edge Effect, a Melbourne-based company which “assists humanitarian and development organisations to work in genuine partnerships with people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics”, Elena says the “theoretical knowledge, research skills, and critical thinking skills” she gained during her studies have been very useful.

“The work we do at Edge Effect is ground-breaking. The expertise of my colleagues means we are well-connected across the development and humanitarian sectors, and I am proud to be part of such an exemplary team who are committed to changing the sector for the better.”