How people across The Global South respond to environmental changes: a Q&A with Mook Bangalore

Mook Bangalore is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography and Environment

LSE is like a microcosm of the world: you’ll find someone from every corner of the globe and those people have so much to teach you!
Mook Bangalore 747 x 560
Mook Bangalore

What are you currently researching?

I study how people across The Global South respond to the environmental changes they experience including natural disasters and climate change, land degradation and tree cover loss, and policy changes that impact energy choices.

The focus of my research is on the local-level impacts across sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia with case studies in Nigeria, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Why did you choose this area of study?

We have many overarching global goals to improve living standards and protect the environment, like the Sustainable Development Goals or UN frameworks on climate change. But to achieve these goals, I think it’s important to understand how people at the local level are impacted by environmental and climate change. So I decided to focus on this by using household surveys and satellite data to understand local impacts and hopefully feed into the larger policy-making process.

How will your research have a wider impact on society? Can you give some real-world examples of the impact your research will have?

I hope my research helps policymakers across The Global South design more efficient and equitable policies to help people adapt to climate change impacts.

For example, one of the papers of my PhD examines the local agricultural and socio-economic impacts of a large flood in Nigeria in 2012. The evidence from this analysis can provide a more nuanced understanding of how different groups respond differently to natural disasters and can help leaders design more tailored policies to better prepare for future events.

What have been the highlights of your research work so far?

Being able to present my work at various stages across multiple forums – including PhD reading groups, academic conferences, and government meetings. This has challenged me to adapt my communication style based on the audience, and I also was able to receive very helpful feedback from the various stakeholders.

Additionally, being able to do mixed methods analysis and conduct interviews with individuals impacted on the ground has provided me with insights that data analysis alone wouldn’t be able to uncover.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

During my PhD, my physical and mental health deteriorated and I took a two-year interruption from my studies. This time period, and my subsequent return to studies, has been my biggest challenge but also my biggest teacher. I felt disconnected from my research, my friends and colleagues, and from myself. Slowly but surely with the help of yoga and meditation, I started to take better care of myself which opened doors to rediscover my love for the topics I work on, reached out (even virtually) to my friends and colleagues, and felt more connected to the work I was doing.

What advice would you give to prospective students on the most effective way to approach research and keep stress levels down?

  • First and foremost, take care of your body, mind, and spirit. Prioritize your sleep, nutrition, exercise, and relationships.
  • Don’t let stress stop you from doing the things you love. Even if you have a submission deadline, or presentation coming up!  
  • Work calmly, diligently, and with love. Enjoy the learning process. Try not to work “hard”.
  • Talk to people when you’re stressed. This can be the mental health resources at LSE, your friends, your supervisors, or any form of support group.
  • Give yourself the freedom to “fail”. If a presentation goes poorly, or you receive feedback that is critical of your research, treat yourself with grace. Take with you the lessons learned. It’s all a process.

In a few words, what is the best thing about studying at LSE?

I’m extremely grateful for everyone at LSE for supporting me during the challenging times of my PhD – including my supervisors, the PhD Academy, the Dept. of Geography & Environment, Grantham Research Institute, and colleagues. One more great thing about LSE as a bonus: LSE is like a microcosm of the world: you’ll find someone from every corner of the globe and those people have so much to teach you!