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From Undergraduate Paper to Global Policy Document

It’s not often than an under­grad­uate term paper turns into an inter­na­tion­ally cir­cu­lated policy doc­u­ment. But that’s exactly what hap­pened to Tori Porell, a sopho­more inter­na­tional affairs major at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, who is wrap­ping up a six-​​month co-​​op at the Geneva Centre for Secu­rity Policy (GCSP) in Switzerland.

Porell wrote about cli­mate change and its impact on food sup­plies for an honors course during her sopho­more year, just before leaving for the GCSP.

“I really liked the topic, so I brought it to my bosses (in Geneva) and they encour­aged me to pursue it fur­ther,” she said. This Sep­tember, that work will be pub­lished as a GCSP policy paper that argues that the out­come of cli­mate change is dis­persed in place and time, meaning its effects are unevenly dis­trib­uted world­wide, leading to food short­ages and nat­ural dis­as­ters in areas that are not sig­nif­i­cantly con­tributing to cli­mate change, such as devel­oping nations.

Porell’s six-​​month co-​​op in Geneva, which ends this month, was not her first foray into inter­na­tional secu­rity: before leaving Boston, she worked as an intern atHarvard’s quar­terly Journal for Inter­na­tional Security. “I absolutely knew I wanted to go abroad for global co-​​op,” Porell said. “Because I already knew my way around the world of global secu­rity — to dis­cover that I could work in the field abroad seemed like a really great opportunity.”
She was also the lead author on a book chapter about cor­rup­tion and national secu­rity, which will be pub­lished this November by the Indian Min­istry of Defense, and the coau­thor of a chapter about the Inter­na­tional Secu­rity Assis­tance Force in Afghanistan.

“It will be some­thing like a field guide for jour­nal­ists and aid workers in the country,” Porell said of her work on secu­rity in Afghanistan. “We did research on the major issues they might encounter, speaking to mil­i­tary and secu­rity experts who had expe­ri­ence on the ground.”

Her co-​​op in Geneva was not her first time pur­suing inter­na­tional affairs abroad. Last year, Porell spent nine weeks on a Dia­logues of Civ­i­liza­tion trip to Jordan, Syria and Israel that focused on inter­na­tional affairs. Looking ahead, she hopes her next co-​​op will bring her back to the Middle East or to Africa, where she could once again pursue the prac­tical appli­ca­tions of global secu­rity sim­ilar to her research in Boston and Geneva.

“I want to con­tinue to see how my research applies in the inter­na­tional secu­rity and devel­op­ment arenas,” Porell said. “At this point, I under­stand how the inter­na­tional system works, so now I want to take that the­o­ret­ical under­standing and see it in action.”

– by Matt Collette

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