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Global NGO's First USC Ambassador is College Undergrad

As student ambassador for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Lauren Goodwin visits classrooms and organizes major events on campus.

Wearing her OECD T-shirt, Lauren Goodwin (right) chats with students and hands out material about the organization during a development fair she held on University Park campus. Photo credit Monisha Sabnis.
Wearing her OECD T-shirt, Lauren Goodwin (right) chats with students and hands out material about the organization during a development fair she held on University Park campus. Photo credit Monisha Sabnis.

Lauren Goodwin's involvement with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) began in Fall 2009 with her study abroad experience in Paris. Or precisely, it began right before she left.

She typed in "large NGOs in Paris" on a search engine and brought with her OECD’s address. After settling in with her host family, she plugged in the address on Mapquest.

“It basically said turn left from your front door,” the USC College senior Goodwin said. During her daily morning jogs, she passed by OECD’s white stone château headquarters, until she finally went inside. Fluent in French, she made a positive impression.

“I told them that USC has more international students than any other university in the nation,” she recalled. “I told them about USC’s School of International Relations, and about all the institutes and centers, like the USC US-China Institute. They liked that, they liked me, so here I am.”


USC College's Lauren Goodwin stands on a balcony overlooking Montmartre north of Paris during her Fall 2009 study abroad program. Photo courtesy of Lauren Goodwin.

Goodwin became student ambassador for OECD, an international organization involving 33 countries that exchange information to build a freer and fairer world economy. Based in Paris, France, the organization is Europe’s leading supplier of reference materials. In the United States, it operates a center in Washington, D.C.

Her ambassadorship marks the first time OECD has been represented at USC. One of 11 student ambassadors nationwide, she hopes to pass the torch to a classmate at USC when she graduates in May and heads to graduate school. 

“There are so few opportunities like this for an undergraduate, so it’s been a very cool way to fuse my senior year with the business world,” said Goodwin, who is majoring in international relations/global business. “And it shows me what working for an organization like this might look like.”

The OECD iLibrary offers access to comprehensive original statistical data, as well as books, journals and working papers on a plethora of topics from the environment to international trade to science and technology.

Interested in researching a country’s economic growth or total expenditures on health? Or writing a paper on pollution as it relates to energy, transportation, industry and agriculture? The OECD iLibrary can give you statistics.

As an OECD ambassador, Goodwin plans speaker events and fairs involving numerous student development organizations.

She’s also invited into classrooms to talk about OECD and what it offers. Goodwin and Katharin Peter, social sciences data librarian at the Von Kleinsmid Center Library for International and Public Affairs, have presented in classrooms such as Nina Rathbun’s international relations global governance class in the College.

Rathbun incorporated OECD in a research assignment for her students.

One researched the impact of civil wars on public health in various countries. Another studied how terrorism has affected tourism in the Middle East. Still another looked at Africa’s female equity in education and the workforce.

All undergraduates used the massive online archives of OECD to find their research data.

“My students were surprised,” Rathbun said. “They didn’t know that the data was available. It was very exciting to see them realize they could analyze original data themselves and find correlations and trends.”

Regularly, Goodwin connects with other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide. Since Paris is nine hours ahead, she sometimes conducts conference calls in the middle of the night with OECD representatives at the headquarters and in Washington, D.C.

“Running a program for a huge organization on my own has thrown me into the network,” Goodwin said, adding that her post also gives her the opportunity to interact with professors in various fields as well as USC librarians.

She’s also presented or will present in the classrooms of Carol Wise and Douglas Becker of international relations, and Mark Moore of economics. And she invited Professor Jean-Pierre Bardet, chair of the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, to speak at an OECD event she organized, to name a few interactions.

“I’ve gotten a snapshot of USC that I wouldn’t have had without my ambassadorship,” she said.

After this academic year, OECD will reward the top two student ambassadors nationwide with an invitation to Paris for its 2011 summer conference.

“Hopefully,” she said, “I’m heading toward coming full circle.”

E-mail Goodwin at for more information about OECD involvement at USC.

Visit the OECD Web site at