James Allen IV, a PhD student in Public Policy & Economics, has been selected as a 2018 Marshall Weinberg Population, Development, and Climate Change Fellow. The fellowship, established by its namesake in conjunction with the Population Studies Center (PSC) and the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), is intended to support interdisciplinary graduate research exploring the complex and dynamic interrelationships among population change, economic development, and climate change.

Currently, James is most interested by research that looks at the implications of population growth, climate change, and human capital investment on Sub-Saharan African development. While the impact of these factors remains uncertain, he is convinced that the next 50 years will bring about rapid change to Sub-Saharan Africa; giving economic research there a clear normative and positive aim: to promote economic development for the poor while advancing our understanding of humanity’s transition from an agrarian to industrial society.

At the age of 18, James found himself disturbed by the fact that – although the world had enough food – one in six were chronically malnourished. Deeply moved, James has invested himself in understanding the complexity of an issue as deceptively simple as hunger and has been diligent in finding ways to help: he pursued volunteer work in Rwanda, an internship at the US Mission to the World Food Program, and obtained an MS degree in Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics (earned during his time serving with the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa) from Michigan State University ('12).

James, who holds a BA degree in Political Science and Foreign Affairs from Alma College ('09), plans to use this fellowship in this third year of his doctoral program to study how climate-change-induced extreme weather events affect schooling decisions in rural Sub-Saharan Africa. He believes that identifying a causal link between agriculture and education is critically important for economic development and will lead to better policies to improve school participation around the world. Having had this research idea for a few years, but being unable to pursue it until now due to its ambitious and time-consuming nature, James is thrilled and very grateful to have this opportunity thanks to the Marshall Weinberg Fellowship.