Please tell us about yourself

Sanya Jha is in her second year in her master’s in environmental science and policy (MSESP) at Harris. She will work with Harris Assistant Professor Amir Jina in support of research that seeks to experimentally identify the impact of air pollution on human capital formation with a field experiment that examines the effect of air pollution on students in India. Jha received Bartlett funding for a summer 2018 internship at the U.N. Environment Programme in Delhi, India, where she assisted with a variety of stakeholder engagement, organizing and research.  “This fellowship is a step forward towards achieving my future goals. Having a background in economics and now environmental science and policy taught me data analysis, and this fellowship will provide me the opportunity to use those skills in real life,” Jha said. “I aspire to get a PhD in the field of energy and environment, and this fellowship provides a path for me to get in-depth knowledge on how to choose a research topic and execute a project. Above all, it will make me a better researcher.”

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How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?

Sanya Jha worked for the U.N. Environment Programme in her native Delhi, India. The experience fulfilled her longtime dream of working for the U.N, a desire she first expressed to her parents as a child. Later in life, she discovered economics as a pathway to researching for the U.N., which in turn sparked her interest in implementing policy solutions to confront pressing environmental and energy issues.  Jha arrived in Delhi a week after World Environment Day, which meant she dove into a series of events with large crowds from government and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Her work for the remainder of the internship involved planning and research for several projects, particularly related to air pollution, but also including topics such as electrification, solar power, cook-stove pollution and electric vehicles. Jha engaged with other large organizations in the environmental sector and related sectors to discuss potential collaboration and possible approaches to improve India’s environmental situation.  “It was a dream come true when I got this internship,” said Jha, who is pursuing a master’s in environmental science and policy (MSESP) at Harris Public Policy. “This experience has been absolutely amazing because I have learned so much…about how things work in a society, and how you’re supposed to go out and implement a project, from the brainstorming stage to figuring out how you’re going to reach the solution you want.” 

What is your policy area of interest?  Is there anything you want us to know about you? 

I am a rising second year student with an interest in energy and environmental policies. Prior to enrolling at Harris, I completed my bachelors and masters in Economics in India. My main goal at Harris is to learn more about how environmental science and policy intersect.

Tell us about your internship and the organization you are working with – what is the organization’s mission?

This summer I worked with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in New Delhi, India. UNEP is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

UNEP’s work encompasses the assessment of global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends, as well as the development of international environmental instruments for a more sustainable world. 

What skills are you using most in your internship?

The skills I am using most often are mixed-methods research and idea organizing for our team. I am involved in projects related to alleviating air pollution and developing solar panels, along with some administrative work. As a part of these projects, I am responsible for preparing concept notes and writing funding proposals. Along with participating in various meetings, I have had the opportunity to understand the various phases of a project from ideation to implementation with a collaborative approach. 

How has this internship helped with your career path ?

During the course of this internship, I have been humbled to interact with well-known leaders in my field working toward the same goal of improving India’s environmental situation. They have taught me how to evaluate a problem deeply to ensure a more effective solution by keeping various factors in mind. I feel more prepared for my future career because this is the kind of work that I have always wanted to do. This experience confirmed that I want to continue environmental work, and I am excited to return to Harris to build on this experience with a stronger analytical toolkit.