Mora Main used her geography degree to make a difference in green politics and volunteers with environmental organisations in New South Wales, where she now lives.
MA (Hons) Geography
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Your time at the University
I grew up on a farm near Dundee, and was sent to board for secondary school in England. All I ever wanted was to get back to Scotland to go to university. Edinburgh was my only choice and I loved geography, which I studied in the School of Geography in the Old Infirmary building.
Professor Wreford Watson was head of department and an expert on North America. He told us that when he first taught continental drift, in the late 60s which was not so long after it was really understood, god-fearing parents of students had accosted him angrily about his heretical beliefs in a world not built in 7 days.
We also had a fantastic geomorphology lecturer JB Sissons who could make even me understand the physics of glaciation. I was active in student charities and on the organising committee for charities week probably in 1968/69. Amongst other activities, we had a wonderful time putting together a huge fundraising mediaeval dinner in the Assembly Hall; Edinburgh Ski club gave us many brilliant weekends away in the Cairngorms and we competed in the intervarsity events as well as the Highland Pentathlon.
Along with subsequent qualifications in landscape architecture I was equipped to understand climate change and environmental threats at a very early stage and have continued to build on that knowledge – geography was such a great place to start.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
I've been active in Green politics for more than 20 years, triggered by my great background degree in geography from Edinburgh, and a lifetime of roaming in the outdoors, cycling, ocean swimming and running. Along with subsequent qualifications in landscape architecture I was equipped to understand climate change and environmental threats at a very early stage and have continued to build on that knowledge – geography was such a great place to start.
I worked as an urban designer in the NSW state public sector, then spent 13 years as a local government elected councillor (on Waverley Council, manager of the famous Bondi Beach) including a year as Mayor and several years as Deputy Mayor. A legacy was setting up a Sustainability Committee and implementing many other eco-friendly initiatives. Now I'm volunteering with Environmental organisations and fundraising for an international NGO.
It is with great pride that I have watched three of my sister's children study in Edinburgh – medicine, biology / environmental science, and physics and maths respectively, and my sister herself going back to study environmental science whilst raising her children.
I was also an active athlete in the 1980s, and represented Australia in the marathon distance twice; at the 1983 Los Angeles Women's marathon run over the course of the first ever Olympic women's marathon (run in 1984), and at the World Marathon Cup held in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1985. I was Australian women's marathon champion in 1984.
Study whatever you love.