A Change of Climate

USC College graduate David Livingston will tackle energy, climate change and other environmental issues in Washington, D.C., with a fellowship from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
ByMegan Christopher MPW ’11

Days after graduating from USC College in May, David Livingston flew to Honduras and spent a week in a small mountain community, his second trip to the region for outreach work.

Moved by the extensive untouched landscape, he hiked further — to a secluded waterfall. Locals told him he was the first non-native visitor they knew of to trek to the spot.

“The jungle’s so thick on either side you actually have to walk up the river,” said Livingston, who majored in international relations and previously had spent a month in India on a clean water project. “It was hard, but it was a blast.”


USC College alumnus David Livingston carries a bin of food on his head to give to villagers in Honduras. Photo courtesy of David Livingston.

Witnessing the natural beauty up close, he became determined to find a way to improve standards of living in developing countries without sacrificing the lush environment. He discussed his desire to help find a cleaner path to industrialization with Robert English, associate professor of international relations, who encouraged Livingston to apply for an internship with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.

Livingston was named one of nine Carnegie Junior Fellows for 2010-2011.

The yearlong fellowship that begins in August is awarded to qualified individuals who graduated during the past academic year and are not immediately pursuing a higher degree. Chosen from nominees at 400 institutions, fellows work as research assistants to the endowment’s senior associates whose non-profit efforts in international relations are dedicated to “advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States.” Founded in 1910, the organization’s work is nonpartisan.

During his fellowship, Livingston will assist three scholars in the fields of energy and climate studies. One is studying Chinese green investments — or  traditional investment opportunities aimed at improving the environment; another is analyzing transportation policy in the U.S., and the third is researching carbon markets in Europe — markets that trade carbon emission allowances as a way of reducing greenhouse gases.


David Livingston distributes candy to children in Honduras, where he volunteered in a small mountain community. Photo courtesy of David Livingston.

As a research assistant, much of Livingston’s time will be spent tracking U.S. climate and energy legislation, such as the highly anticipated Kerry-Lieberman bill, called The American Power Act. Expected to be considered in the fall, the bill seeks a reduction in carbon pollution, and caps on greenhouse gas emissions. Livingston will also spend time looking at the U.S. administration’s energy policies and researching investment trends in clean technology.

After his year with Carnegie, Livingston plans to attend graduate school, and is particularly interested in the environmental policy programs at Oxford and Cambridge universities in England. Eager to glean more about the European carbon market, he hopes for the opportunity to learn from Oxford or Cambridge professors who have served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

He’s open-minded about his future, eventually seeing himself working for the state department, the private sector or a non-profit organization such as the Sierra Club. The fellowship, he said, will help him decide where he really wants to be.

With a passion for international relations, the environment and learning languages, Livingston believes the global think tank may be a perfect fit for him.

“It’s a great opportunity to continue studying what I’m already interested in with some of the brightest minds in the field.”