Tamar Law

Class of 2017

Hometown: Ithaca, NY

What is your College Scholar project?
My thesis, "Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the Face of Climate Change," examines entangled, multi-species vulnerability in the face of climatic change and globalization. I ask how traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) can be incorporated in a multi-species framework for decision-making in the science/policy interface. My research explores how knowledge itself has been colonized through globalization and will offer two case studies, one of knowledge that is set in the post-colony and another of traditional knowledge that exists within the western mode of life. At stake in what I am studying is the consideration of a basic question:  How can we adapt to harmful ecological, cultural and economic transformations and provide models for cultural and ecological resilience? Ultimately in this thesis I argue that the most effective way to maintain and enhance current ecosystems is to reinforce and empower local knowledge as the basic platform from which transformation takes place. Through this thesis, I hope to add to a literature that engages local knowledge and understandings to adapt to climate change, which can hopefully be used to guide future community based projects. 

At Cornell, I have been fortunate to benefit from the support of the Hunter Rawlings Presidential Research Scholars Program, the Tarrow Fellowship, an Arts & Science African Study Grant, and a Bartel’s Scholarship.   

What are your most important extra-curricular activities?
I am an intern for EcoDefense! Radio. This radio program is a community based, public broadcast that reports on news of ecology, environmental justice and direct action. Not only has this been a dynamic way to explore journalism, it has also helped me re-assess the power of the media and what it often omits and excludes. 

Talk about any summer internships or programs you’ve attended?
I spent my second semester junior year studying abroad in Madagascar through a very integrative and involved program. I spent 5 weeks independently working with and studying traditional and modern beekeepers on the East coast, examining the bio-cultural significance of honeybees. If you are interested, here is the link to my blog. I am spending the first part of the summer between my junior and senior year around the Cornell Biological Field Station on Oneida Lake, doing research on ecological calendars with the local community.  In August, I’ll be spending time in the colonial archives in Aix-En-Provence to get a head-start on my thesis, thanks to the support of the Tarrow Fellowship.

What do you dream of doing after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to further my own academic interests by pursuing a graduate degree that allows me to merge my fields of study. Hopefully somewhere where I can hike!