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Laura Handly

School: Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Department: Development Economics and Human Security

Research Interests: Water Science & Systems, Climate Change, International Relations

Project: "Water Security in the Mara Basin: Kenya / Tanzania"

TIE Affiliation

TIE-SEI Internship


Laura is a Master's student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy studying Development Economics and Human Security. She expects to complete her studies in May 2020. Before coming to Tufts, Laura earned her B.A. in Political Science and English Literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In addition to her own studies, Laura is a senior editor with the Fletcher Forum of International Affairs, and an editor for Praxis, the Fletcher Journal of Human Security. She also was a consultant with the Fletcher Social Investing group, where she worked with a team to conduct a life cycle assessment of Wave2O, a wave-powered desalination technology with a pilot program in Cape Verde. She also makes the occasional cameo as a Fletcher Futbol midfielder.

Reflecting on some of her experiences/travel before Fletcher, Laura said the following:

"Prior to Tufts, some of the most meaningful experiences I had were while I was traveling. From 2012-2013, I participated in an year long exchange program through Rotary International to a town called Kristiansund in northwestern Norway. I loved my time in Kristiansund, where I learned to speak Norwegian and to love fish prepared in ways you can't even imagine (google "lutefisk" if you're ready for a shock!). Western Norway is truly beautiful, and I felt closer to nature there than at any other point in my life. From 2015-2016, I spent my junior year of college studying at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. It was a time of pretty intense political upheaval in Turkey and of mass migration out of Syrian during the height of its civil war. That year was transformative for me, and its there that I started to realize that what I most wanted was to spend my life helping to develop meaningful solutions for vulnerable communities. In January 2017, I had the chance to hike in Chilean Patagonia for a month. It was an amazing trip, and one that made me really aware of mankind's lasting impact on the natural world. One day, we visited Glacier Grey, an immense and beautiful glacier in Torres del Paine National Park. Seeing the markings of its rapid retreat was deeply unsettling and somehow made the concept of climate change much more tangible to me than before. Though I had also been concerned about the environment, I think this experience more than any other helped me to understand the magnitude and urgency of the situation".

Current Studies and Future Goals

When asked what she found most meaningful about her field of study, Laura responded with the following: "My current fields of study - Development Economics and Human Security - approach many of the same issues using distinctly different lenses. In Development Economics courses, we utilize quantitative analysis coupled with social science reasoning to make sense of human problems and to assess whether proposed solutions are effectively addressing them. In Human Security courses, we seek to understand the ways in which human welfare is under threat globally and to consider holistic policy approaches to mitigate these threats. For me, participating in classes and conversations with so many bright people who seek to address these complex problems gives me hope for the future. I know it's easy to become apathetic in today's world, but I haven't seen even a hint of it at the Fletcher School".

When asked why she wanted to be a TIE-SEI intern, Laura responded with the following: "In my role as TIE-SEI intern, I will support the center's efforts to improve water security in the Mara Basin region of Tanzania and Kenya. Many aspects of this project are of interest to me, but I am particularly excited for the opportunity to engage with local stakeholders to identify the main water vulnerabilities in their communities and to support sustainable resource planning moving forwards. I believe that this opportunity will allow me to gain a more holistic understanding of water scarcity than I could attain from coursework alone. I am extremely motivated to make a positive contribution in this field, and I think that this position will allow me to start doing so".

Laura hopes to be a researcher for a non-profit involved in sustainable development and climate adaptation once she completes her studies at Tufts. In the long-run she is considering pursuing a PhD in sustainable development. She hopes to help communities that are particularly vulnerable to the risks of climate change.

Fun Facts!

When not doing schoolwork, Laura enjoys being active in nature, especially hiking, skiing, or trail running. When shes not studying or training to run a marathon, Laura likes to cook for friends, play chess (at a novice level!), and read novels.