Fulbright scholar studies globalisation

January 12, 2006, vol. 35, no. 1
By Stuart Colcleugh

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Visiting scholar Kathleen McAfee has done virtually no sightseeing since arriving in Vancouver last September from the University of California at Berkeley, though that hasn't prevented her from wanting to stick around.

“I haven't seen anything yet,” says the Pennsylvania-born geography professor and 2005-2006 Fulbright research chair in sustainability at SFU. “But I just love the city and I'm being considered for a couple of permanent jobs (in B.C.), so I hope to rectify that.”
Then again, scenery is not the only reason McAfee wants to stay. “My colleagues and the students at SFU have been very welcoming and supportive,” she says, “and I've made some great connections that I'd like to build on.”

McAfee teaches and writes about economic globalisation and international development, food systems and the equitable sharing and sustainable use of natural resources. Her research analyses the challenges of valuing and conserving biodiversity and distributing environmental benefits and burdens within a world-market economy. Her current projects concern environmental services, resource rights, rural livelihoods, agriculture, and genetic resources conservation in Mexico and elsewhere in the global south.

McAfee came to academia through a career in the NGO sector, including 10 years as a policy analyst for OXFAM and as a consultant for the UN and other multilateral agencies. She earned her BA in zoology at Vassar College, followed by an MA in economic geography and a PhD in geography, both at UC Berkeley.

She had a faculty position at Yale prior to her current position at UC Berkeley and is the author of Storm Signals, a book on international development strategies.

While at SFU, McAfee is analysing conservation-through-commercialization programs being adopted by multilateral, government and private agencies, based on estimating market prices for environmental resources. “I call it selling nature to save it,” she says, adding that the success of such programs is debatable. She is also exploring interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability, particularly in Latin America. She recently contributed a chapter to the forthcoming book, Food for the Few: Neoliberal Globalism and the Biotechnology Revolution in Latin America, edited by SFU sociologist Gerardo Otero.

Since her arrival, McAfee has lectured at UBC's Liu Institute and its geography department colloquium series, and at SFU's geography department Geospeakers series.

She also spoke in Toronto at Food for Talk, a monthly seminar series, on food security, agricultural globalisation and international sustainability issues.

The Fulbright, long regarded as the world's premiere academic exchange program, attracts exceptional scholars from more than 150 countries worldwide.

The Canada-U.S. Fulbright program has initiated more than 800 exchanges since 1990.

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