Dispatch from Montpellier:

A letter from M.A. in Global Policy candidate, Katherine Farrow ‘12, who is currently interning in France

Katherine Farrow

Now one month into what is to be a four-month “séjour” in Montpellier, I realize just how significant this experience will be for me. Participating in a collaborative capacity at the Montpellier Laboratory for Theoretical and Applied Economics (LAMETA) has opened my eyes not only to the specific workings of the research process, but also to the concrete and immediate implications that this work has on important economic and social processes. The research performed here is diverse, ranging from developing insights on international climate change negotiations using game theory, to better understanding the complex ways in which individuals make decisions in the context of social and environmental public goods. This diversity is fitting; as a division of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), LAMETA shares its mission: to inform public and private-sector decision-making by lending expertise on the workings of the natural, technical, and social mechanisms involved in agriculture, nutrition and food safety, and environmental management.

While my time at INRA has already proved immensely rewarding, my experience in France has not been limited to working. I meet daily with French students to exchange French language practice for English, and to commune over similar experiences as researchers, amateur cooks, and the like, but moreover, as people. I volunteer time at the weekly English table where I benefit from insider knowledge on wine appellations, curious French expressions, and the difference between “fromage frais” and “fromage blanc.” And while Indiana Jones is not quite the same when dubbed in French, the pleasures of cultural immersion take innumerable forms on a daily basis. As a student of global policy, each of these forms has become significant in ways I have not yet the ability to articulate, but to which I continue to remain sensitive.

À bientôt, Kate Farrow
November, 2011