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Cameron Gaylord '09 Studies Energy Policy and Geopolitical Competition

By Laura Bramley
Posted August 23, 2008
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A critical concern for U.S. policymakers is how to secure a reliable source of energy in the coming years. Even as fears about a decline in global petroleum reserves lead the country to use the range of its diplomatic options to achieve "energy security," competition for resources is intensifying with the economic growth of countries like Russia, China and India. As a Levitt Fellow this summer, Cameron Gaylord '09 (Westport, Conn.) is delving into these issues, studying the global political arena to assess the challenges that finite energy resources present for international policy.

The race for fuel and the increasing demand from rapidly developing nations have created new issues for both American and foreign leaders, Gaylord says, "to secure energy for their respective countries, while also attempting to avoid the pitfalls of global competition, military conflict and the looming threat of global climate change." With this project, in addition to evaluating the current situation in global energy policy, Gaylord hopes to show the dangers of a rising "mercantilist-like mentality" and examine its possible significance for state power and individual freedoms.

Gaylord is spending the summer at home, traveling several times each week to New York City to use the resources of the New York Public Library and to meet individuals who are affiliated with the global oil trade. Based on his study of the literature and his interviews with industry experts, he says that the U.S. will probably continue to be dependent on foreign energy for some time, a situation that will not help the country's economic condition or address the issue of global climate change. However, he notes that there are signs of increased investment in alternative energy, and he also points out that China and the U.S. have begun to work together to reduce competition for energy and decrease environmental degradation.

Gaylord's study, a collaborative project with Assistant Professor of Government Ted Lehmann, is part of the Levitt Research Fellows Program funded by the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center. The program is open to all students who wish to spend the summer working with a faculty member on an issue related to public affairs. Those selected for the program spend ten weeks in the summer working intensively with a faculty mentor, and are required to provide a written assessment of their work at the completion of the summer, as well as participating in a poster session in the fall.

A world politics major, Gaylord says that his research is "one of the most important topics for any student of international relations." He became particularly interested in the subject after taking Professor Lehmann's course on "The Politics of Oil." When he then spent six months studying in South America and seeing how oil companies developed and exploited the land, the experience was "an eye opener," he says. "I wanted to take the summer to research the intensity of the impact the global oil trade has on the world." 

Gaylord intends to minor in history. He runs on the cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track teams, and is a fraternity member as well as a co-founder of the Investment Club and a senior admissions intern. After he graduates, he is considering entering the energy business, either to work for an oil corporation, trade commodities, or become a paralegal for a law firm that represents an energy company. "It's up in the air," he says. 


-- by Laura Bramley

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