Hikaru Wakeel Hayakawa ’24

Ecologic Institute, Germany

This summer, I interned with the climate, economics and metrics teams at the Ecologic Institute, an international environmental policy think tank based in Berlin. Since childhood, I have long wanted to give back to society through public sector work. Following on the heels of prior experience in environmental advocacy groups, I wanted to gain experience in policy analysis and research. My time at the Ecologic Institute solidified my interest in international environmental policy and environmental justice issues.

Hikaru Wakeel Hayakawa with the Climate Policy team.Due to the Ecologic Institute’s interdisciplinary research focus, I was able to work on a diverse set of projects. I primarily focused on two projects: a literature review on sustainability indicators for the bioeconomy (i.e., the part of the economy in which goods and services derive from biological materials); and a 30-page chapter on permitting best practices for new onshore wind turbines for 4i-TRACTION, a European Commission-funded project to develop policy pathways for the EU to fulfill its commitments under the Paris Agreement (i.e., to avoid global average temperature increases above 1.5 degrees Celsius). Additionally, I submitted and proofread several entries for the Urban Governance Atlas consisting of 250 best practice, urban, nature-based solutions in Europe and Latin America; and I strategized social media outreach for Green Deal—Big Deal?, a podcast focused on communicating the technicalities of the European Green Deal to students and young professionals to empower youth voices in EU environmental policy discussions.

I have five main takeaways from my internship. First, I enjoy writing and ultimately want to work in a job that allows me to conduct research and actively write. Second, I enjoy thinking through policy issues and hope to take further coursework on environmental policy, especially environmental justice issues. Third, I realize that I enjoy collaborating with people. Fourth, in the classic Eph fashion, I appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of the environmental policy field. I collaborated and conversed with people from various academic and professional backgrounds: economists, communications staff, data scientists, marine biologists, lawyers, and event planners. I learned that climate policy has the professional and intellectual breadth and depth I aspire to continue to have in my life following my liberal arts education. Finally, I have strengthened my interest in exploring a career in interdisciplinary, team-based climate policy research or international climate negotiations.

Thank you to the Public Service Internship Program for making this opportunity possible. Thank you to the ’68 Center and Dawn Dellea for your encouragement and support. And thank you to Tanja Srebotnjak, Zilkha Center Director, and Verea Stange at the Ecologic Institute for all you did to make this unparalleled academic, intellectual and professional experience a reality.