Feb 272012
Authors: Jason Pohl

CSU Professor Laura Raynolds will headline the second edition of the Livelihood Transitions series Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Lory Student Center, Room 226. The three-part program highlights issues in the increasingly globalized world, and is sponsored by the International Development Studies program at CSU.

Raynolds’ discussion will hinge on her decade of research on fair and alternative trade. Specifically, she will explain how even tiny decisions made by consumers — from buying flowers to purchasing food — have far-reaching effects around the world.

Beyond that, she will explain how important an understanding of global issues will be in the future for graduates entering the workforce.

“It’s often easy for students to think that globalization and economic processes just sort of happen,” she said. “We kind of get bombarded by ‘the economy does things to us’ instead of ‘we engage the economy; we can reshape the economy.’”

Her focus is how these larger systems of alternative trade can really send ripple effects across global economies. Most recently, she has worked with Ecuadorian flower growers in examining how something as simple as a rose can have amplified effects across society.

Exportation, exploitation and environmental degradation, she said, are some of the biggest things that people often ignore on a daily basis. But thanks to changes in fair and alternative trade programs, the dire situation has gotten better, granting labor rights to those working on small plantations.

“That’s been really neat to see,” she said, adding that the talk will describe how to blend these types of practices across numerous different industries outside of simply flowers.

“There’s not just one answer,” she said. “But there are a variety of ways we can address these problems. They do have lessons for us about what is worth working on and what types of things seem to make sense.”

“In a way, it’s the good news and bad news,” she added.

Recognizing the busy lives of students and community members, she said she understands how this sort of mindset gets ignored, especially in today’s fast-paced world.

Sophomore mechanical engineering major Phillip Somers agreed that these sorts of events on campus are critical in terms of getting a better understanding of the implications of tiny consumer choices.

But he said that college students get so wrapped up in their own lives, especially as they enter the working world, that it just becomes too much to handle.

“It seems like, for most people, it just stays on the back burner,” he said.

The series provides people from all majors and interests an opportunity to see just how the world is changing from the eyes of some of the leading researchers in various fields. The final installment will be led by Brett Bruyere April 3 and will cover community-based conservation in Kenya.

“This is a great opportunity to use the faculty and resources that we have here to help give some insights into these particular questions,” Raynolds said. “That’s one of the wonderful things about being on a campus like this.”

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

The talk
Who: Sociology Professor Laura Raynolds
What: Discussing globalization and fair trade as part of the International Development Studies series
When: Wednesday, 4 p.m.
Where: LSC Room 226
What’s next? The third series speaker will be Brett Bruyere, who will discuss conservation in Kenya on April 3.

 Posted by at 3:25 pm

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