Saturday, January 11, 2020

URSP Student Hannah Johns Explores the Connection Between the Cost of the War in Colombia and the Value of the Biodiversity Present in the Country

I study the environment, through the perspective of analyzing the impacts it can relay on people. Studying people and culture is the most striking topic to me, and I knew my goal for research was to study the vulnerabilities the environment can project upon people, especially vulnerable populations such as indigenous people. Through my process in OSCAR, I became more interested in the study of environmental security, which utilizes people in planning and mediating the effects that war and violence can impose on the environment and natural resources, and which in turn will have larger effects on all people. I decided to study environmental security in Latin America, and if there is a connection between the cost of the war in Colombia and the value of the biodiversity present in the country.

To stay weekly engaged with my project I would find new sources, through the Mason Library databases, to contribute to the background, and context necessary for my research on the country of Colombia and its 50-year war. I also continued to learn more about the field of environmental security and the theories involved. During this time, I also received approval for my interview process from the Institutional Review Board, so that I would be able to include interviews in my project from indigenous people, and environmental scholars from Colombia that I would meet at the Nature for Climate Hub conference.

While I was attending the conference in September, I learned more about the solutions and projects that were being achieved by the scholars featured. These studies expanded on everything I had originally learned in the classroom, which caused me to be able to synthesize and connect the fields of environmental science, conflict analysis, and of anthropology. I also met many renowned scholars and individuals who talked about impactful topics such as Laudato Si, which is a very influential religious writing on the need for human action and care during the time of climate change and human degradation. The more I have spent time with my topic and talking to people living in the conflict, the more I become interested in being able to one day to travel to Colombia and to learn everything I can.