Student Highlights

Student Highlights

In this page, we feature samples from our students' work, from Independent Study projects, to theses, to creative explorations. We welcome submissions from current and past students at any time. Please contact the Program Director if you'd like to see your work showcased on this page.

Anna Beyette '21

Thesis Topic: Environmental Legacies of Colonialism: How Past Colonization Affects Current Social and Environmental Outcomes


The devastating history of colonization worldwide includes centuries of violence and conflict with lasting effects that continue to alter the social, economic, political, and environmental structures of post-colonial societies. Colonization affects the environment directly through historic exploitation of natural resources leading to environmental degradation. But colonial legacies also affect the environment via pathways of disenfranchisement such as economic disparities, social inequalities, and political turmoil. In this thesis I explore the potential ways in which variations in colonization may influence current environmental conditions as well as environmental concern in former colonies. I explore variations in mode of colonization, duration of colonial events, time since colonization ended, enslavement of colonized populations, environmental exploitation, population demographics, and educational institutions. I examine 77 case countries with differing histories of colonization, 19 of which have never been colonized.

Beyond its historical impacts, colonization and its on-going legacies have shaped the world we live in. Countries that have been colonized have lower levels of income equality, weaker structures of governance, and worse environmental conditions today than those that have not been colonized. Colonial legacies potentially affect environmental condition both directly as well as through current governance structures and levels of income equality, which are both shaped by variations in colonization and have potential to affect environmental outcomes. Legacies of colonization will continue to affect structural and environmental outcomes in modern society until we actively address them in our environmental and equity solutions.



Lauren Colodny '21

For the experiential component (250H) of my Peace and Justice Studies major, I spent the summer of 2020 working on a campaign to re-elect Ed Markey to the U.S. Senate. While this work was rewarding and meaningful in many ways, it left me with a lot of questions about the electoral structure of politics in the U.S. and about the role that community organizing plays in it. A lot of the work I did on the campaign was based around direct community outreach, but I often wondered if the end goal of electing someone to office was the right one to be mobilizing a community toward. To take a deeper look at these questions, I produced a mini series of podcast episodes reflecting on the experience I had doing this work, interviewing people I worked with, and exploring alternative models to electoral politics.