2017, Honors College
Beverly Harp has committed her career to fighting climate change. During her undergrad at Mason, she excelled in the classroom, won multiple State Department grants that allowed her to study abroad in India, volunteered for political campaigns, and co-founded and led a successful student organization. Harp prepared herself for a career in climate change advocacy and communication by making the most of the opportunities offered through the Honors College and more broadly, culminating in research into climate finance in India funded by a prestigious Fulbright fellowship.
Harp began this research In her junior year, when she studied U.S.-India bilateral relations on climate change, focusing on U.S. climate finance in India as part of Mason’s Global Problem Solving Fellows Program. She explored what equitable climate finance looked like in India under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), conducting a review of the published literature and undertaking interviews with activists and policymakers in Rajasthan, India, and Washington D.C.
Her findings suggested that U.S. climate finance should be prioritized to state-level rural electrification and adaptation efforts, though these areas do not necessarily have the easiest investment tracks. “The more that U.S. climate finance empowers India to develop its own local energy market rather than supplanting it, the sooner mitigation goals will be reached,” says Harp.
During her year-long research, she was mentored by Younsung Kim, a professor affiliated with both Mason’s Global Affairs Program and the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. She expanded her project the following summer when she served as an intern at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi, India. There, her work was guided by Geetika Singh, a program officer with CSE.
In her last year at Mason, Harp was a Critical Language Scholar and presented her work at OSCAR’s spring research exhibition. She published versions of her research both on the CSE website and in the Roosevelt Institute’s 10 Ideas series. The Roosevelt Institute is a progressive policy think tank, and Harp is the co-founder of Roosevelt@Mason — George Mason University’s chapter in Roosevelt’s campus network.
Harp's B.A. in Global Affairs has led to a career at the intersection of public health, environmental justice, and policy. Today, she is the Manager of Digital Communication and Research at George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication (4C). She works on two projects: the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health (MSCCH) and a new initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called Health and Climate Solutions.
“The interdisciplinary nature of the Honors College supported me in being able to take this job because I didn’t have a background in health. My background was in climate policy and community organizing. I felt capable and prepared to do a deep dive and learn about a completely new topic, and that I would be able to do that, partly because the way my education was designed [for me] to feel [that] I could become an expert in multiple different things and [that] I wasn’t really limited by my discipline.”
Beverly Harp, speaking about how the Honors College prepared her for her career
With MSCCH, Harp organizes doctors from over twenty-three medical societies to take collective action on climate change and spread the word about its negative impacts on health.
“[Doctors] have a real authority on climate change. People trust doctors and trust medical professionals in a way that they do not trust politicians or lawyers or scientists,” cites Harp.
The second project Harp is involved with centers on seven grantees working on different health and climate solution projects, like greening elementary schools in Austin and a housing safety and energy efficiency equity project in Buffalo. Harp hopes to learn why those projects have been successful and promote knowledge about the solutions on 4C’s social media platforms. By sharing ideas and connecting diverse communities across the country, 4C sends a positive message that climate change can be solved if everyone works together.
“We’re supporting those grantees in their communication activities and also working on more broadly getting out the message that health and climate solutions coexist and are out there... It’s a scary situation but there are a lot of people who are finding solutions”
Outside of her work at 4C, Harp is actively involved in youth organizing on climate justice issues for SustainUS. Harp uses her diplomacy and research background to mentor youth so they can advocate for change at the local, national, and international levels: “That’s kind of like our bread and butter: train young people, give them skills, develop leadership, and send them to meetings.”
In the Honors College, Harp made the best of the research opportunities available to her, undertaking research in our Foundations of Inquiry course, a Multidisciplinary Topics course, and a Multidisciplinary Challenges course. She cites these experiences when discussing her success at 4C and SustainUS, saying that the Honors College "gives you both the practical tools and the self-efficacy required to pursue significant research.” The Honors College, she says, prepared her to "ask higher quality, more critical questions.”
Alumna profile by Honors College Communications Intern Sophia Chapin