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Visiting student shares his London and King's experience

Henry James Evans is a final year PhD student at the University of Copenhagen (2019-2022) where he is researching sustainability education in out-of-school settings. He is currently carrying out a research stay abroad at King's College London.

Henry Evans profile photo

Henry has been based in the Centre for Research in Education in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (CRESTEM) at the School of Education, Communication and Society. He presented at a CRESTEM seminar where he spoke about his work and research around sustainability in out-of-school science education. You can watch the seminar here.

We caught up with Henry to learn more about his research, how his visit to London has been and his plans for the future.

Tell us a little bit about your background...

My background is situated in the natural sciences, starting as an undergraduate in BSc Marine Biology at the University of Plymouth (2009-2012). Time was spent exploring the rocky shore, going out on boats and learning about the amazing marine life. My dissertation researched the diet of the juvenile cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis, which involved many hours of dissections! I moved abroad to study MSc Climate Change at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark (2015-2017), and my thesis researched climate change education in international schools in southeast Asia. This was a very interesting time to be studying such an important global topic, coinciding with the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tell us about your visit to King's and ECS – how did it come about and why did you want to come here?

King's has an excellent global reputation and I found the opportunity to carry out a research stay abroad to be very appealing. My Danish fiancé moved to London for work in the autumn of last year and, after living abroad for almost six years, I was very keen to spend a few months closer to family here in England. I grew up near Cambridge, so not that far at all!

Did you come to London? What was it like?

I travelled from Denmark in mid-March 2021 and spent 10 days in quarantine, as well as having multiple COVID tests. In the past, I have always felt like more of a tourist when visiting London for the day, so it is a fun experience to live here! I’ve found the city to be much quieter than I’m used to, so I’ve been taking lots of walks to explore the amazing history found all over the place.

Henry Evans presenting in a lecture theatre
Henry presenting his PhD project at Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark.

What research are you currently working on?

I’m researching sustainability education in out-of-school settings, such as museums, science centres, zoos and aquaria. The overall aim is to operationalise the complex and fuzzy concept of sustainability into a form more meaningful for the education missions of these institutions. I’m particularly interested in the on-site educational programmes offered by these institutions for visiting school classes.

Why is it important and why does it matter to you?

We are living in a time full of global and complex challenges, also known as ‘wicked problems’. Education plays an essential role in moving towards a more sustainable future and I’ve always enjoyed visiting museums, zoos and other out-of-school settings. In 2013, I set up my own science communication business called Magnificent Ocean and have travelled the world visiting schools. It’s critical that we provide the next generation with a platform full of inspiration and wonder!

How do you balance your work, career and personal life?

Carrying out a PhD can be a difficult process impacting heavily on balancing other parts of life. I try to maintain a daily structure and set regular targets for what I’m hoping to achieve over a specific time period. Once I’ve finished for the day, I clear my laptop and other work materials away. It’s so important to switch off whenever possible!

What’s your favourite place on campus or in London?

I currently have a running route around Haggerston Park and London Fields, and always enjoy walking along the River Thames. I’m looking forward to revisiting the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and British Museum as soon as I can! Victoria Embankment Gardens is my favourite place to watch the world go by.

Henry Evans presenting in a classroom
Henry working as a science communicator in an international school.

What are your short-term and longer term aspirations and plans?

Later this summer I’ll be travelling back to Denmark to carry out more data collection, teaching on science communication university courses and progress further with thesis writing. In spring/summer 2022, I will be potentially moving back to England and have a lot of interest in continuing in academia through a post-doctoral position. Longer term, I hope to continue with my science communication business and trying to make a positive difference in the world.

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