MoDDD’s first graduates share their highlights from the course

Graduation photo-1
Graduates are from left to right Mailys Baerg, Rennae Sillett, Lisa Skillern, David Anderson, Robyn Mansfield and Sarah Schoffel. Joining them was Judy Rogers, Program manager (centre).

The MoDDD program is excited to announce that our first six students graduated on the 13th December at Ethiad Stadium, Melbourne. We wish all of the graduates the greatest success in the future and we look forward to reporting on their endeavours. In honour of the occasion we asked our graduating cohort to share some of their highlights from the course.

Rennae Sillett


Rennae Sillet

“The opportunity to learn from my peers who all came into the course with various professional backgrounds really separates MoDDD from other traditional courses. MoDDD created an environment in which we not only learnt from our tutors, but also from our peers’ experiences and points of view. It was great to have architects, urban planners and engineers among many other professionals in our group.

The Intensive weeks were also great. I will always remember the lecture Tim Costello delivered. I felt very humbled to hear of his experiences in the humanitarian field and his thought provoking examples that demonstrated how we as humans are all connected on this earth.

For me personally, another highlight was learning all about the social side of recovery and how communities play a vital role in their own recovery.”

Robyn Mansfield

Robyn Chamgna

“Connecting theory with case studies appealed to my practical nature and inspired a desire to work with communities on building back better and prevention through design intervention. The field trips to Marysville and Ecuador provided invaluable opportunities to see the theory in practice and grasp the gravity, complexity and breadth associated with disaster impact. Brainstorming ideas with like-minded passionate people and connecting with industry leaders also allowed us to dare to dream of being a part of the solution.”

Mailys Baerg


“Upon entering into the Master of Disaster, Design and Development, my interests were very much design and architecture oriented. Having completed a bachelor degree in architecture, I wanted to harness the skills that I’d already developed and apply them in another context. Whilst I was certainly able to do that, I was also able to explore another growing passion of mine; that of the mental wellbeing of the aid workers.

MoDDD is so unique in that it enables us to interact with students and professionals across such a broad spectrum, thus we are not limited to one domain. It challenges preconceived notions and encourages us to be inquisitive.”

David Anderson 

D Anderson image

“Undertaking studies in the humanitarian sector has been both rewarding and inspiring.  It was an incredible experience and opportunity to learn from those working in different areas of the humanitrian sector and like minded students.  MoDDD is a unique degree in that it combines design and development with disaster relief and for me it was an opportunity to study humanitarian architecture and gain a further understanding and unpacking of how architects and design professionals can contrubute to the humanitarian sector and work with communities in need.

The degree itself combines well structured modules with a  hands on approach of intensive weeks in Marysville and field trip to Ecuador, this provided a well rounded course that has enabled me to build on my experience in architecture and community development work.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this incredible experience and course.   For those looking for a pathway into the humanitarian sector I highly recommend undertaking the MoDDD degree.”


Sarah Schoffel



“I’d been awaiting the inception of the MoDDD degree since I first heard of the intention to form it, at a workshop in 2012, and I am delighted to have been part of the first cohort.

As an architect I knew that I had skills and experience that should be translatable to humanitarian work, but the sector is very complex with many pathways and structures, which are not always legible from the outside. MoDDD has helped me to consolidate and align my built environment background with the goals and imperatives of the humanitarian sector. Through MoDDD I’ve been introduced to concepts such as urban resilience, disaster risk reduction and preparedness, communication for social change and the ‘transformative agenda’, and I now have a solid working understanding of this complex sector.

Course highlights for me were the intensives in Melbourne and Marysville particularly the one led by ARC and Red R, which focused on the practical aspects of shelter and settlements looking at factors ranging from local politics and social issues like gender and disability, through to the pragmatics of camp planning and shelter construction.

I think, however, that the high point of the degree was the amazing field trip to Ecuador in February this year. This was a fantastic experience at the time, but more importantly it was one that I’ve continued to learn from all year, as my understanding of the humanitarian sector deepens.”


Lisa Skillern


“For me, MoDDD reflects RMIT’s ability to embrace new initiatives through exchange and collaboration. The highlights were numerous. The chance to complete an industry project with international participation reflects the course’s standing as do the industry professionals who have supported it from inception.

The conversations with people who are passionate about the humanitarian sector and the importance of design to promote community engagement were very special. The crucial but inconsistently and barely acknowledged area of educational and play spaces for children in temporary settings and refugee camps was explored in diverse conversations.

With my background in fine arts and engineering, and a career where creative solutions are required to solve complex problems across a range of industry sectors, MoDDD consolidated so much for my trajectory going forward.”