Prior to beginning her education at the School of Diplomacy in the Fall of 2015, Renata Koch Alvarenga actively engaged herself in discussions and research on international issues. First, she boldly initiated her participation in a University of Queensland professor’s global climate politics research. This was followed by her attendance at COP21 with the Brazilian non-governmental organization, Engajamundo, after formally joining earlier that year. Both of these activities allowed Renata to act on her passions to combat climate change and encourage others to become engaged with global challenges. This fall, she continued this mission, expanding her advocacy to include increased individual responsibility as she traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts to participate in the Crowds and Climate Conference as the Engajamundo representative, while simultaneously cementing her leadership as a member of the SHU Diplomacy community.
Renata notes that since her arrival on campus, Seton Hall has provided her with an avenue to develop the skills, the knowledge, and the expertise to pursue her personal interests and identify potential career paths for her future. As an example of this, she highlights her freshman year study of Human Rights and Law Policy under Dr. Catherine Tinker, saying that the class, “played a big role in my decision to follow the human rights negotiations at the UN climate negotiations, as well as advocate, through the organization [Engajamundo], for the rights of women, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups to climate change.” Her academic interactions with Dr. Tinker further solidified that Renata could take issues she was passionate about and pursue them long term in an internationally recognized professional arena. At just this time came an opportunity to put her academic and personal experiences into action.
The Crowds and Climate Conference, an event hosted by the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence's Climate CoLab, provides organizations, groups, and individuals the chance to engage with innovative and collective approaches to address climate change. Climate CoLab ran a contest in which a variety of organizations submitted more than 600 proposals hoping to gain the opportunity to present in Cambridge. Engajamundo was one of only twenty-seven projects chosen; being voted the Public Choice winner. Once chosen to present, the organization selected Renata to be their voice- a responsibility she did not take lightly. In her preparations for the presentation, she said that a key aspect for her was the desire to, “…make sure I’m speaking for everyone.”
Upon arriving at the Crowds and Climate Conference, Renata found that Engajamundo was a slightly atypical presence; the majority of presentations were deeply scientific and the presenters themselves were primarily older academics. Unintimidated, she proceeded to share the Engajamundo proposal: “What is Climate Change and What Do I Have to Do with It,” which discussed ways that organizations could educate youth on climate change in an interesting manner that simultaneously promoted youth engagement on global and local levels. The reception was highly positive, with the ideas gaining support from many well-connected participants. Since the conference, Renata has kept in contact with her fellow presenters, creating a virtual working group to continue the conversation and provide opportunities for future collaborations between Engajamundo and others.
Renata’s personal pursuits have not only complemented her academic experiences, but her professional experiences with Seton Hall outside the classroom as well. When discussing her SHU Diplomacy journey, she says she is grateful for the multitude of opportunities available to her to make significant contributions to the field while simultaneously studying it. Her favorites so far range from her on campus leadership roles in the School’s official chapter of the United Nations Association and contributing to the Center for U.N. and Global Governance Studies blog, to interacting with high-level officials such as Permanent Representative of Brazil to the U.N., Antonio Patriota. She notes that these moments have all been enhanced by working side by side with a cohort of invested and engaged peers, as well as a faculty and staff supportive of students’ individual goals and interests.
In a prime example of the faculty’s commitment to student development, Dr. Catherine Ruby, the School’s Director of Internships and Career Development assisted Renata in securing two advocacy related academic internships: one with the Tinker Institute on International Law and Organizations, an NGO that focuses on research, education and training on international law, sustainable development and other topics; the second with United Ambassadors, a model United Nations education organization. Her work with United Ambassadors takes her personal transition to the next level; allowing her to reflect on her success and guide young advocates towards the practice of their own passions at the highest level of international institutions.
Though she entered the School with an impressive resume, Renata didn’t stop there. She’s embraced her time at Seton Hall as a transformational journey. In the tradition of Diplomacy alumni before her and prospective students after her, she will continue to discover her ability to generate positive change through the opportunities and the knowledge afforded to her in her years at Seton Hall.
Categories: Nation and World