Impact Stories: John Parker

Dear Friedman community,

JohnP2My name is John Parker and I am a second-year student in the Agriculture, Food and Environment (AFE) program at the Friedman School, and am concurrently pursuing a dual degree at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that Friedman and the AFE program have provided me over these past two years.

My decision to apply to the Friedman School’s AFE program came during the spring semester of my first year at the Fletcher School. As I carried out coursework and research related to the linkages between food security and natural resources management in developing countries, I realized that in order to help address the growing challenge of ensuring food and water security in the face of population growth, food price volatility, climate change, and resource scarcity, I needed a more comprehensive understanding of food and agricultural science and policy. With its interdisciplinary focus on the nexus of food, agriculture, and the environment, Friedman’s AFE program was the perfect fit.

Since starting at the Friedman School, I’ve had incredible opportunities to work with and learn from JohnP3world-class professors who are carrying out cutting-edge and interdisciplinary applied research that informs the direction of food, agriculture and nutrition policy and practice at the highest levels. With the help and mentorship of Professor Tim Griffin, director of the AFE program and Tufts’ unique multidisciplinary water program, Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS), I was able to design and conduct field research in southwestern Honduras on the adoption and diffusion of water management innovations that have helped smallholder farmers mitigate the impacts of recurring droughts and floods in hillside agricultural systems. Thanks to the support and encouragement from Professor Griffin and other WSSS-affiliated faculty members, I was able to present my research findings at an international conference on resilience, innovation and sustainability.

This past fall, I had the opportunity to carry out research with Friedman Professors Dan Maxwell, Will Masters, Peter Walker and Patrick Webb for a scoping study on climate change and food security that helped inform the research strategy on climate change for the Consultative Group for International JohnP1Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Since then, I’ve continued working with Professor Dan Maxwell and the Feinstein International Center on research that aims to improve the impact of food security programming. We recently completed a paper commissioned by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) that analyzes the role and potential of the newly-formed Global Food Security Cluster, the global body charged with coordinating food security responses in humanitarian emergencies worldwide. We have now started a new study that investigates how international donors, agencies and NGOs use food security analysis to inform program decision-making. The opportunity to conduct research with Friedman’s professors – individuals who are true leaders in their field and who fully embody the term “scholar-practitioner” – has been inspiring, personally and intellectually rewarding and the highlight of my Friedman experience.
None of these opportunities would have been possible without the support of and contributions from donors Friedman School donors. Thank you for your continued generosity.

John Parker

MS/MALD candidate ‘12
Agriculture, Food and Environment
Tufts University, The Gerald J. & Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy