The Marriage of Science and Policy
Kristen Friedel ’14 became discontented with environmental problems and social inequality while attending high school in Wallingford, Penn. It was around this point in her life that her guidance counselor recommended that she apply to Green Mountain College. Through her time here, she realized that the smaller community was the ideal place to enact change.
“The campus encompasses what I want to do with my life, especially in the community structure,” she affirms. “I’m living and experiencing the type of community that I want to influence in the future.”
Kirsten is an environmental studies major with a concentration in public policy. A dreamer and a doer, she chose her major after reflecting on the problems innate to our society and deciding how to use her strengths to solve them.
“What really drew me to my major was the policy aspect,” Kirsten explains. “I think with way that the U.S. is being run right now, there is a lot of social injustice and environmental degradation. There are a lot of issues that need to be sorted out.”
Her specific plan for sorting out these issues includes creating national policies endogenously through shaping local culture. She advocates for organizing positive interactions by smaller communities with the environment. She believes the effects of these policies would expand outwards.
Kirsten notes, “You can make far more of an impact an environment on a community level than what a nation can.”
Furthermore, Kirsten asserted that her dual areas of study, public policy and environmental studies, compliment each other as parts of a holistic approach.
“I an avid believer that people need to learn the science behind everything first and then go to the law and make changes,” she adds.
While attending college, Kirsten has become very involved in the GMC community as a public relations officer for Student Campus Greening Fund (SCGF), an undergraduate research assistant studying the development of public participation in Thailand, the campus Sustainability Council student representative, an undergraduate teaching assistant for an ecology course, and a volunteer mentor for an international negotiations course.
Over the summer she participated in an internship through the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCOR). She described this work experience as the greatest opportunity that GMC introduced to her.
According to Kirsten, working through EPSCOR reinforced her need to “make the most of what I can do and channel it back into the community.”
After graduation she is hoping to pursue a year or two of field experience and then apply for law school. Kristen eventually wants to work for a non-profit organization or an NGO.
With her insatiable desire to positively influence her immediate environment, Kirsten will undoubtedly prove to be an invaluable asset to whatever community she joins in the future.
By Laura Huley '13