Monday, February 24, 2014

Student research: policy for change in Georgia's coastal communities

Written by Kirstie Hostetter, a UGA sophomore and Carl Vinson Institute of Government Student Fellow. She is pursuing a degree in environmental economics and management. 

When I was little, I dreamed of being the first female president of the United States. I wanted to fix people's problems, and thought the best way of doing that was through politics. Later, at UGA, I discovered an organization called the Roosevelt Institute, and I realized that for me a better way to help people is through policy, not politics. And so began my love of public policy research.

Through the Roosevelt Institute, a student-run policy think tank, I learned how to identify a problem in society, research it, and come up with policy alternatives. And through Roosevelt, I got the opportunity to participate in the Vinson Institute Fellows Program and conduct a semester-long policy research project.

Interning at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government has been a thrilling and enlightening experience. I am working this semester with my faculty mentor, Jason Evans, an environmental sustainability analyst, to develop policy solutions for coastal communities throughout the state of Georgia and elsewhere that address the dangers of rising sea levels.

The experience has been intensive -- the amount of literature on the science of sea level rise is incredible, not to mention the studies of how it affects individual communities differently. What keeps me motivated is the drive and dedication of the team of people I work with. They work with these communities as if they were their own, listening to scientific experts but also equally to the concerns of people who live there and know the area more intimately.

In many ways I think public policy, when done with a genuine desire to help, can be a gift to a community. It provides the voiceless with an outlet for their concerns and their troubles. The people I work with at the Institute of Government have really highlighted this element of the policy process for me. When you focus on listening instead of fixing, you come up with a better solution and people who are truly grateful for your involvement.

I hope to carry this lesson with me into the future and apply it to all my endeavors, public policy-related or not. My experience so far in the Fellows Program has given me a greater desire than ever to make sure that my future includes public service through policy development.

No comments:

Post a Comment