Priyanka Ramchurn ’21
Accelerating the Global Momentum around Blue Finance and Blue Investments
Connections begins here.
You can choose from a variety of first-year seminars. You might like the one about epidemics. Or the art of time. Or wealth and poverty. Tell us what interests you the most, and we’ll place you in a class.
Your seminar will be small. Your instructor will serve as your adviser from now until you declare your major in your sophomore year. Of course, you’ll have a whole team of advisers.
In this jam-packed class, you’ll learn all about Connecticut College—its mission, core values and commitments. You’ll learn much more about the Connections curriculum. You’ll find out how to conduct top-notch research, how to give a persuasive presentation and how to enhance your writing skills. And you’re going to explore your seminar topic from multiple angles and perspectives.
As a first-year student, you are living in a new place, among new people, learning new things in new ways. Navigating all this novelty can be a challenge. We have an excellent solution at Conn: your own advising team. Why a whole team? You get more support, multiple perspectives and more guidance. Your team will help you throughout your first year and into your second—when your select your major.
Your faculty adviser is the instructor of your first-year seminar. This person will get to know you well and help you in countless ways, especially with your academic vision.
Your staff adviser partners with your first-year seminar instructor. This adviser will assist you with orientation and your schedule, and be your eyes and ears not only to the campus, but also to the larger New London community.
Your student advisers will provide valuable insight into life at Conn. You’ll have at least two student advisers—maybe three. Because they were first-years themselves not so long ago, they know what it’s like to be new here. They’ll escort your class to various events, help you register for classes, and show you the way around the academic landscape. They’ll be there for you all year long and beyond. Grab lunch or coffee, go for a walk, check out an event. They’re eager to help.
Your career adviser will help focus your interests into professional possibilities; connect you to career workshops and networking events with our alumni; and prepare you for internships, job interviews, grad school applications or whatever else lies ahead.
Connections means cohesion. You’ll be deliberately pulling together your intellectual pursuits: your classes, your major, your internship, your projects. You can achieve this through one of our 13 intriguing Integrative Pathways, or through one of our five groundbreaking centers for interdisciplinary scholarship.
Your Pathway or Interdisciplinary Center will enrich your studies by immersing you in a community of scholars. You'll work alongside students, faculty and staff who share the same broad interests as you, but who study them from different—sometimes even radically different—perspectives.
At the core of your Connections curriculum will be what we call your "animating question." You will work with your professors and your advisers to develop this question—a question meaningful to you—as you pursue your Pathway. This will help inform and guide your intellectual journey at Conn.
Accelerating the Global Momentum around Blue Finance and Blue Investments
Growing up on an island, Priyanka always felt connected to the ocean. She joined the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts to explore her interests in oceans through an economic, political, legal, environmental and social perspective.
“Since the ocean is a transnational topic, I wanted to learn about the experience of other countries around the world and investigate the opportunities and challenges they are facing in transitioning to a sustainable blue economy,” she said, defining the blue economy as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.”
An international relations and economics double major with a finance minor, Priyanka dove right in. As a sophomore, she took an “Oceans Laws and Policies” course, mastering the provisions of the United Nations Convention for the Laws of the Seas and writing a research paper on the Chagos Archipelago sovereignty dispute between her home country, Mauritius, and the U.K.
She studied abroad at the University of Oxford, and, in the summer before her junior year, she went to Colombia through the Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) Program to conduct research on the blue economy.
“Together with a team of marine scientists, economists, and environmentalists from the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut, and the Ocean Society, I supported vulnerable coastal communities in identifying local grassroots science-based solutions to unsustainable fishing, the growing threat of climate change, marine pollution, and the migrant crisis. I also had the opportunity to interview, listen to and interact with women, youth and migrants of Nueva Valencia Ciénaga Grande, a highly vulnerable floating village and also the Kogi indigenous population of Santa Marta,” she said.
“These encounters allowed me to gather first-hand information on how those local communities confront the realities of climate change on a daily basis, which directly impacts their incomes, economies, food security and livelihoods.”
Priyanka interned over the summer with the World Bank Group, joining a with the team working on the Blue Economy and collaborating with organizations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association, Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Center for the Blue Economy.
At the Symposium, Priyanka made a case that transitioning to a sustainable blue economy requires sound ocean governance, research and innovation, and most importantly, finance.
“I introduced the concept of blue financing and blue investments to my audience and emphasized the importance of investing in the blue economy in 2020 and beyond. Ultimately, I presented the innovative idea of the Global Ocean Institution (GOI),” she said.
After graduation, Priyanka plans to continue her work with the World Bank, and then pursue law school and a career as an international maritime lawyer working for the United Nations.
“I am committed to making positive contributions to the Blue Economy agenda and to make meaningful changes in the lives of vulnerable coastal populations in small island developing states and other big ocean states around the world,” she said.
COVID-19 and Normative Ethics: A Global Assessment of Triage and Reopening Strategies
Halle has always been interested in healthcare, ethics and public health, so joining the Public Health Pathway was a perfect choice for the philosophy major and government minor.
“I really wanted to apply a lot of the conceptual work I do in the classroom to issues that are super important to me,” she said.
Halle studied abroad at University College London in London, England, where she took a “Policy Issues in the Life Sciences” course that integrated a lot of her government coursework with the issues she discussed in the Pathway’s thematic inquiry course. She completed two internships; one with the Mayo Clinic and one a small bioethics non-profit run by Conn graduate.
“My internship shaped my integrative question, as we conducted survey-based research regarding the ethical principles guiding triage policies on state and institutional levels,” she said. “My Mayo Clinic internship affirmed my passion for public health ethics and, in tandem with my Pathway coursework, led me to decide that public health ethics is what I want to focus on as a career path.”
Halle’s academic experiences are culminating during the worst global pandemic in more than 100 years, which led her to her animating question: In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, how do normative ethics influence or guide triage policies and reopening strategies, and what does this look like globally?
“I hope the Symposium audience questions and understands a lot of the principles that are motivating these public health interventions, and perhaps will be more cognizant of how governments actually act on value statements regarding the people they govern,” she said.
Halle is applying to master’s programs in the United Kingdom, where she plans to study public health or bioethics.
“My Pathway really gave me the opportunity to survey a lot of careers and issues in the public health field and provided me with the space to explore my interests and potential career direction with other students and faculty,” she said. “After I earn my master’s, I hope to work in some type of health policy position or with a health-based international organization.”
Sustainability through Urban Gardens and their Positive Impact in Communities
Koby, an environmental studies major and economics minor, describes his experience in the Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, Value and Change Pathway as “nothing short of amazing.”
“The Pathways allow students to analyze a central question and look at that theme through multiple avenues of academic learning. Mine gave me the opportunity to analyze sustainability through an entrepreneurship lens,” he said.
Through his coursework, Koby completed hands-on projects that included creating business plans and launching solutions to real problems. He studied abroad in Granada, Spain; interned for a start-up dedicated to reducing food waste in dining facilities and volunteered at an organization delivering fresh produce and groceries to immunocompromised and individuals with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All of his experiences helped him hone his animating question, which connects food insecurity in food dessert/ apartheid communities with urban gardens and farms.
After graduation, Koby plans to pursue a career in environmental consulting.
Discussion of the Journey of the Class of 2021 in the Peace and Conflict Pathway
An aspiring politician, Max joined the Peace and Conflict Pathway to better understand political conflicts and learn to develop solutions.
A government and English double major, Max interned for U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy’s U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts and developed an interest in political rhetoric.
“Even in a Democratic primary, for a safe Democrat seat, I was able to see how conflict arises within party lines. I watched how both campaigns’ rhetoric changed throughout the summer and became harsher and more biting,” Max said.
In Assistant Professor of Government Mara Suttmann-Lea’s “Parties, Campaigns, and Elections” course, Max learned about effective campaign messaging.
“Unsurprisingly, comparative messaging helped a candidate best because this style does not directly attack an opponent but instead gives voters an alternative vision without the degradation of another candidate,” he said.
Max is now writing an honors thesis on presidential rhetoric during catastrophic times. At the Symposium, he was part of a group presentation along with the other seniors in the Peace and Conflict Pathway.
“It fit with how tight-knit our group is. We enjoyed learning from each other and bringing in knowledge from our various majors and minors, so we decided this was the best way for us to demonstrate our collective research,” he said.
After graduation, Max is looking forward to starting his career in politics, either as a candidate himself or working on campaigns.
“I am excited to dive into policy and try to help solve some of our problems,” he said.
Social Justice in Technology: Unequal Access During COVID
Alex, a computer science major and mathematics minor, joined the Social Justice and Sustainability Pathway to learn about the ways he could help create a more just society.
“I’m learning about inequality that exists in all sectors locally and globally, and how everything is connected,” he said.
A Posse scholar from Chicago, Illinois, Alex was struck by the inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as they relate to education.
“Students and their families are struggling to pay internet bills or afford a computer, and that is a huge problem, since students are not getting proper education,” he said. “Most of these students are low-income, attend under-resourced schools and are being left behind.”
Alex presented about the impact of the technology gap on students’ learning at the Symposium. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career with a tech company, and continue to seek out ways to advance social justice. He also plans to give back to his community.
“I want to mentor students in STEM who come from places like the place I came from, and help them achieve their goals,” he said.
How Can Social Determinants of Health Explain COVID-19 Case Patterns?
Cassidy, a biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology major, joined the Public Health Pathway to explore career options.
“Ultimately, it worked out perfectly since I now plan to go to graduate school for public health,” she said. “I have learned that it is an incredibly broad, interdisciplinary field and that almost any interest can be tied in some way back to public health.”
Cassidy is currently interning with DataHaven, a non-profit organization based in New Haven, Connecticut, that conducts surveys and collects data on health, socioeconomic status and inequities throughout the state. She is also completing an independent study based on the data and exploring how social determinants of health explain COVID-19 case patterns in Connecticut, and presented her research during the Symposium.
“I hope I was able to teach the audience about the major role socioeconomic factors, like race and income, play in health outcomes,” she said.