Saturday, August 7, 2010


And back to Panama...
Things here are as hot and humid as ever, though I and my colleagues probably have more warming on the brains than ever before. My first few weeks here are being spent doing a course in Environmental Policy -- mostly in discussion of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), two major pieces of international legislation that include various associated protocols. One you may have heard of called the Kyoto Protocol.

You would think that a course in policy could be taught anywhere in the world, but the professors are working hard to make being in Panama worthwhile, particularly for students that aren't based here for research. This week has been all about getting the nuts and bolts under our belts so that next week we can hand in a short paper, participate in a negotiation simulation (hence the title of this post) and then start working on a term paper that involves interviewing local stakeholders that may be impacted by international policies. The professors have many contacts here, and I can't imagine getting the same things out of a similar course taught in Canada. Sure, we would get the same basic understanding of the policies, but not the same opportunities to meet and talk to people working with government, NGOs and other countries to make these policies happen. I'll admit to not looking forward to the negotiation simulation next week -- I've never been particularly good at those sort of things, and there's a reason that I'm in biology and not a field that requires negotiation! Maybe my taxi haggling skills will come in handy?

Other than being snowed under with reading and work, it's good to be back. Of course, I miss being at home, but for the moment I'm too busy to think about it. Today it was nice to enjoy sleeping in, having a late brunch with my housemates and doing standard things like laundry.

I'm looking forward to getting to my own work, and I'm excited to have already made a few contacts here at the Smithsonian that will help me with new directions in my research, but that will have to wait at least a week or two. Though not too long... grant deadlines are looming.

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