I am serving as a research fellow at Oxfam for my Lombard Fellowship this year. Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty. For over 70 years, Oxfam has been working in more than 90 countries to achieve this mission. Oxfam takes four different angles to tackle the root causes of poverty: emergency response, regional programs, campaigning, and public education.
My Lombard Fellowship with Oxfam is focused on the latter two categories of their work. As a Research Fellow in the Campaigns Department, my work centers around Oxfam’s advocacy work towards fixing our broken food system. My role consists of two main functions. The first is conducting research to guide the design and implementation of the upcoming global food justice campaign. My coursework and experience completing a senior honors thesis in Geography proved to be crucial in undertaking this research role. In my job, I write narratives for publication and internal briefs based on my analysis of company reports, books, government data, advertisements, research publications, academic articles, and media coverage on the policy and practices of major food companies. This work has been particularly invigorating, because I was able to see my research directly translate into social impact.
The second function of my role is to serve as a liaison between Oxfam and Oxfam Student Clubs on college campuses to promote Oxfam’s food-related work. For this, I built on my experience of having founded the Oxfam Club at Dartmouth College after attending Oxfam’s CHANGE Training — a social impact youth leadership program — during the summer of my junior year. In this role, I support more than 50 Oxfam Clubs nationwide by developing a youth engagement strategy for the upcoming campaign, creating campaigning materials geared towards student organizers, and organizing collective student action on a national scale.
My work at Oxfam has been incredibly rewarding and invaluable in regards to my ultimate career aspirations in academia. By balancing research and outreach, I familiarized myself with both the behind-the-scenes and public-facing work of campaigning. This helped me gain a deep understanding of the complex issue at hand and of the challenges of corporate campaigning, which I subsequently conveyed to supporters in a digestible manner to educate and motivate them to take action. Moreover, my work, which contributes to galvanizing US public engagement to address global inequality, has encouraged me to think actively and critically about affecting change by acting upon my spheres of influence in recognition of my situatedness. In my journey to become a grounded and effective scholar, these learnings will powerfully guide my thinking around the social impact of my future research.