Moho students head to Brazil

By Michelle Williams


For those interested in environmental policies, attending the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, more commonly known as the Rio+20, may be a dream. For five Mount Holyoke College students, this dream has become a reality.

At the annual conference, held this year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, “world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet to get to the future we want,” the event’s website states. The two-day conference will begin June 20.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” said Bridget Brady, a senior environmental studies major at Mount Holyoke, who will be attending the event. “To be able to go from reading and discussing the significance of these meetings in international environmental governance, the actors, and the process in abstract terms in the classroom to watching the process unfold before our eyes at the UN has been such an exciting experience.”

Angela Kim and Emma Puka-Beals, both senior environmental studies majors, Ahdi Zuber, a junior in the same department, and Julianna Lord, a junior economics major, will also be attending the conference.

The students spent a semester studying the implications of international environmental governance in a class titled “ Science and Power in Environmental Governance,” taught by Catherine Corson, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Mount Holyoke.

Additionally, the students have spent four weeks this semester attending preparatory meetings for the Rio+20 conference at the United Nations in New York City.

“We saw the various constituents debate and analyze the meaning of every word,” said Zuber. “Our course with Professor Corson helped us pick up on the nuances of these negotiations and understand how agendas were being phrased and played out.”

Corson, who will also be attending the conference, said she is excited that the students are able to attend the Rio+20, as she believes it to be “the decade’s most high-profile environmental event.”

“I hope to see government representatives and heads of state make public commitments to sustainable development and poverty eradication, and encourage their citizens to hold the government accountable,” said Puka-Beals.

The trip is funded by the Miller Worley Center for the Environment, the Dean of Faculty’s office, the department of environmental studies and Ronald J. Oehl, the parent of a student at Mount Holyoke.

Michelle Williams can be reached at [email protected]