Stuart Hill graduated in 1964 having studied Zoology with Botony and Chemistry. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of the University of Western Sydney.
Why did you decide to study at Swansea University?
I wanted to study marine biology. Swansea was the nearest university to the sea, with an outstanding group of academics concerned with marine biology; and there was no requirement for a second language, although I did pass my French ‘O-level’ eventually!
What did you enjoy most about your course at Swansea?
Passionate and competent instructors, great group of colleagues (I was particularly inspired by the ecologist Dr Amyan Macfadyen), amazing environment (we rented a house on the Mumbles for part of the time – and I had a sea kayak, with a sail); and I had a great year in one of the Singleton Halls of Residence, where I was Social Chairman and helped to establish a mid-week dance called the Pauper’s Ball.
What are you doing now career-wise?
I am an Emeritus Professor and Foundation Chair of Social Ecology at the University of Western Sydney. Until recently, I was also the Head of School and Acting Dean.
Prior to that I was responsible for the Zoology degree at McGill University (Montreal, Canada; 1969-1995), where I established in 1974 and was Director of until 2005 Ecological Agriculture Projects, one of the first institutes of sustainable agriculture in the world.
I have supervised dozens of amazing MSc and PhD student, published several books and over 400 publications, and been involved in numerous government and NGO committees and initiatives.
How has Swansea University and your course helped you with your chosen career path?
Essentially my experiences in Swansea validated my awareness of my potential as an academic and laid the foundation for my subsequent experiences and achievements.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Enabling transformative, meaningful learning and development in students. Publishing relevant documents that enable situation improvement, and working with individuals, groups and communities beyond the university to similarly enable genuine progressive change.
What was the best careers advice you were given?
Go for gold; you can do it, and make a difference; don’t postpone; be willing to risk initial ‘failure’ (“a genius is likely to be someone who makes the most mistakes fastest – and learns from them”)
What advice do you have for current students and new graduates?
Get help from someone who is really competent to enable you to clarify your genuine passions, goals and aspirations. Develop strategies to achieve them, and keep on track.
What are your plans for the future?
Continue to learn, develop and enable others to do the same.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Academically: I did one of the first whole-ecosystem studies (mid-‘60s); established one of the first resource centres for sustainable agriculture (1974), and taught one of the first university courses on this; I helped to establish a whole sustainable island in the Seychelles; worked as a psychotherapist enabling significant recovery in numerous distressed people.
Personally: helped raise two amazing children, and who themselves have helped to raise amazing children!
What are your favourite memories of your university years at Swansea?
Driving each day with flat-mates in my old red Morris (MG imitation) from the Mumbles to University to our classes, being inspired every day, having a great social life, and eventually graduating.
And finally, describe yourself in 3 words…
Inspirational, caring, reliable (& fun)