What do football and climate change research have in common? For Notre Dame wide receiver Corey Robinson, the two involve following your passions.
Robinson is a rising senior in the program of liberal studies (PLS) and sustainability minor. He chose this course of study because he really enjoys philosophy and speculative thinking. “Sustainability was a perfect way to combine my love for ethics and philosophy with practical environmental policies,” he said.
Robinson learned about the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) while exploring topics for his sustainability capstone project. ND-GAIN is the world’s leading index showing which countries are best prepared to deal with the droughts, super-storms, and other natural disasters that climate change can cause. Once he learned more about ND-GAIN’s work, he decided to pursue a summer research internship to explore the index's research more in depth.
Robinson’s project focused on creating a case study on the relationship between climate change, agriculture and deforestation in Brazil. “Brazil is a leading world producer of agriculture products and the country’s total yield is heavily impacted by several factors, including rising temperatures, deforestation, and agricultural technological capacity,” he explained. “Brazil must learn to adapt to agricultural climate change issues or it may forfeit its place in the world’s agricultural economy.”
"Corey sought out an internship at ND-GAIN based on his interest in the poor in emerging economies,” said Joyce Coffee, managing director of ND-GAIN and Robinson’s research advisor. “He brought fresh thinking to our mission and projects, identifying the places most vulnerable to extreme weather and changing climate, and identifying real-world solutions that can prevent these changes from becoming disasters."
Robinson will also incorporate his work with ND-GAIN into his senior thesis for PLS which will apply John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism to environmental policy-making and will use deforestation in Brazil as a specific case study.
When asked about his experience, Robinson said, “I thought the whole experience was extremely valuable because I was able to see a new industry and learn a wide range of skills. I honed my writing skills, researched minuscule data points across a wide variety of sources, and built effective models. I also learned that I really enjoy the environmental NGO field.”
Robinson’s coursework and research experience have also influenced his career plans after he graduates from Notre Dame. "I hope to pursue a master's degree in public policy or go to law school," he said. "My dream is to become an environmental policy maker or an environmental lawyer."