(I will duplicate this initial post and keep it updated as the blog’s “About” page.)
My name is Brandon Wu. I am a graduate student seeking a Masters of Public Policy degree at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. My current research involves the effects of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement on Afro-descendant Colombian communities, and the conflict between Colombian and international human rights law on the one hand and the role of (inter)national economic “development” policy on the other.
My interest in “development” – and later I’ll unpack what exactly I mean when I use that word – began, like so many others, in 1999 when the World Trade Organization exploded into the headlines. The Seattle protests were an interesting curiosity to me, then a directionless freshman at Yale University. Over the next few years, I became engrossed in classes on “development,” eventually earning a B.A. in sociology having studied under several professors doing innovative and fascinating research about development and globalization issues. In parallel, I became active in the global justice movement in 2000 and 2001, a movement that in the U.S. was largely cut short by the tragedy of 9/11.
Post-college, I worked in advocacy nonprofits in Washington, DC, most pertinently a five-year stint at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch in which I was professionally involved in the ongoing struggle against U.S. trade policies that, it could be argued, exploit disempowered populations in favor of a privileged few.
Now I’m back as a student of “development,” from the at times uncomfortably pragmatic perspective of the field of public policy. I’ll soon be trying to figure out how I want to involve myself in the hugely important question of what “we” – by which I might variously mean activists, the global North, transnational social movements, etc – can do about the very real problems of poverty and oppression that exist around the world today.
I intend to use this blog as an outlet to share my thoughts and feelings as I embark on this process. I’ll likely write a lot about development policy, development theory, and development practice. I’m sure I’ll end up writing a lot about Colombia as my research on that country continues. I’ll probably also mix in some domestic (U.S.) politics, social movement thoughts, labor, environmental and other “issue”-based writings, and other relevant musings as I see fit – but will try to keep my thoughts as on-topic as possible.
Thanks for reading.