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Tufts Lunch & Learn Speaker Profile : Rebecca Ray

by Hyun An on February 4, 2016

Meet Rebecca Ray, Research Fellow at Global Economic Governance Initiative and co-author of the eye-opening report, China in Latin America: Lessons for South-South Cooperation and Sustainable Development.

Rebecca Ray spoke at the Environmental Studies Lunch and Learn series about the effect of Chinese economic activities on Latin America. According to Ray, China has been the key influencer of the recent social and environmental changes. Ray’s research not only encompasses the societal impact of Chinese economic activity, but also measures the current and potential environmental implications of Chinese investment in Latin America. Her research focuses on the increasing China’s share of LAC exports over time, environmental impacts of exports to China compared to all other countries, decreasing rate in job creation and the risk that Chinese investment casts on many indigenous peoples and biodiversity.

Rebecca Ray’s career path

After receiving her undergraduate degree in 2000, Rebecca worked in the “Think Tank” world in Washington D.C. for 8 years. Ray received her master’s degree at the Elliot School of International Development Studies at George Washington University, where she got to experience the convoluted world of international aid first handedly. Finding out about the different types of power struggles within the government and civil society and observing situations where money gets spent but nothing happens and no one knows that nothing happened, she found herself more attracted to the topic of how to make the voices of civil societies heard. Therefore, she jumped into this multi-year project at GEGI, coordinating 8 countries that specifically look at the governing of international investors and establishing policy space. She stated that she feels privileged to be able to work directly with the funders and with colleagues from all over the hemisphere.

Tips for students interested in environmental policy and activism?

For Tufts students who are interested in pursuing at path in environmental policy implementation and environmental activism, Ray recommended that they really brainstorm on whether they want to go into academia to become a professor or into the field to work on issues of advocacy and consulting. Ray stressed the importance of field work experience for both fields, as she recalled her experience at George Washington University. She stated that her experience working in the field before going into GWU made her a more active and attractive student who understood what she wanted from the program.

Ray also recommended students to follow organizations that are in the field working on issues of their interests on social media. According to Ray, following these organizations can not only enlighten students about who the most influential organizational and individual actors, but also can give students a better sense of where they want to be “plugged into.” She emphasized the importance of familiarizing oneself with the community (organizations) as consumers by following them on social media, because it will help students to find mentors in the community more easily.

Watch Rebecca’s talk here

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