Lauren Howe, a candidate for May graduation from Hamilton, has been awarded a prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for 2013-14. Her project is titled “The Future of Food: Modern Technology and Traditional Agriculture Systems.” Howe was among 40 national winners of the Fellowships. This year 148 finalists competed on the national level, after their institutions nominated them in the autumn. Each fellow receives $25,000 for a year of travel and exploration outside the U.S.
Howe is an environmental studies major and government minor at Hamilton.
In her proposal Howe wrote, “Global population has just reached seven billion. So in feeding the world, can we solely rely on a mechanized food and agriculture system? Can small-scale traditional farming prevail? Is there a need for both? I will explore the influence of technology in food systems to understand how this multifaceted, controversial, and relatively contemporary concept manifests itself across a range of cultures. I seek a balanced awareness of the issues surrounding food security and cultural continuity in a changing world where some would argue that technology is apotheosized, tradition is threatened, and the welfare of the natural environment is overlooked.”
She explained, “My project takes me to countries that vary culturally, geographically, and environmentally – India, Bolivia, Tanzania, and Iceland, where I will learn about the intricacies of food systems and how their evolution has affected local communities.”
Howe will live and work on small farms, attend workshops and symposiums on food security and policy, and volunteer at relevant NGOs in each country. She noted that she “will interview farmers, agro-economists, and non-profit directors; engage in a wide variety of farming activities; and pay special attention to the efficacy of production models in each community.”
Howe was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 2013. In 2012 she conducted a five-week independent research project, “The Eco-Potential of Farm Tourism in Australia: A Gap Analysis” at School for International Training in Australia. She was a U.S. delegate to the 2012 International Slow Food Congress Terra Madre in Turin, Italy, in October. Howe was elected to Hamilton’s Pentagon Honor Society and published “Hydropolitics of the Nile River: Conflict, Policy, and the Future” in Hamilton’s Insights: The Best of Undergraduate Social Science Research journal.
She is co-founder and co-president of Slow Food Hamilton College where she established a campus chapter of Slow Food International, which promotes “good, clean, and fair” food, and raises awareness about sustainable food through lectures, film screenings, farm tours and community events. She was a Hamilton Diversity and Social Justice Initiative Summer Service Associate grant recipient, and was invited to present her co-authored paper, Let’s Dig In! Adirondack Food Culture Through the Ages,” at the Canadian Association for Food Studies 2012 Conference in Waterloo, Ontario.
During the summer of 2012 Howe was a Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources legal services intern where she researched the state’s Wetlands Protection Act as it relates to agriculture, drafted agricultural law memorandums for the MDAR website/public education, and researched nonprofit incorporation/legal entity status for farmers markets.
In 2011 Howe interned at Grow Food Northampton where she managed affordable and senior citizen Farm Share Programs.
At Hamilton Howe has served as chairperson for the Food Systems Working Group for the “Let’s Get Real Hamilton!” food sourcing campaign, a member of Hamilton Environmental Action Group, sustainability coordinator for Recycling Task Force, a member of Gamma Xi sorority and the Hamilton Outing Club.
Howe, the daughter of Gary and Theresa Howe of Easthampton, Mass., is a graduate of Hampshire Regional High School.
The Thomas J. Watson Foundation was created in 1961 as a charitable trust by Mrs. Thomas J. Watson, Sr., in honor of her late husband, the founder of International Business Machines Corp., (IBM). The Foundation initially used its resources in support of a variety of programs. In 1968, in recognition of Mr. and Mrs. Watson's long-standing interest in education and world affairs, their children decided that the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program should constitute a major activity of the Foundation. Since that date, the Fellowship Program has granted more than 2,700 Watson Fellowship awards, with stipends totaling more than $29 million.