Each year, the World Social Forum attracts delegates from around the globe to discuss movements in social justice. This year's forum, held Jan. 27 to Feb. 1 in Brazil, featured Cornell student Apollonya Porcelli '10, who spoke about the negative impacts of globalization on the environment.
Presenting her talk in Portuguese, Porcelli, a natural resources major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, focused on violence against nature and the social and economic structures that can prevent it, from grassroots to governmental levels. She chose these points, she said, to address the "threats to the health of people and the environment that currently trouble the Amazon."
Porcelli had spent her fall semester in Belem, Brazil, the location of this year's forum, working with the Brazilian nongovernmental organization (NGO) Amazonia Alegre é Verde. The director of the organization had asked Porcelli to speak at the forum to present the perspective of someone who conducted research in Brazil and who specializes in studies of environmental conservation and socio-economics.
While in Brazil during her semester abroad, Porcelli also visited other NGOs concerned with Amazonian development and independently researched a small food cooperative, focusing on ways members of the co-op grow or harvest food without damaging the environment.
Although this was her first experience publicly addressing the topic, she had worked on these issues before, promoting environmental education programs through Cornell Cooperative Extension for the past two years.
"This led me to value internal community empowerment," she said. In her speech, she suggested that community empowerment and extensive education are two ways that people could overcome neglect of the environment.
Natural resources professor Jim Lassoie and developmental sociology professor Philip McMichael helped Porcelli plan her 20-minute lecture.
Most of Porcelli's transportation costs were covered by Cornell Tradition, which recognizes and supports outstanding undergraduates, and provides students in the program $3,500 to use for such purposes over their Cornell undergraduate years.
Lauren McHugh '10 is a writer intern at the Cornell Chronicle.