PKG Social Impact Intern Cindy Xie Featured in MIT News!

Cindy Xie was a PKG Social Impact Intern during Summer 2021. Cindy a Food Sustainability and Food Justice Policy Intern for the World Wildlife Fund. Read more about Cindy’s internship experience by clicking here!

An urban studies and planning major with minors in anthropology and biology, Cindy Xie is also earning her master’s degree in city planning in a dual degree program.
Photo: Jodi Hilton

Whether working with fellow students in the Netherlands to design floating cities or interning for a local community-led environmental justice organization, Cindy Xie wants to help connect people grappling with the implications of linked social and environmental crises.

The MIT senior’s belief that climate action is a collective endeavor grounded in systems change has led her to work at a variety of community organizations, and to travel as far as Malaysia and Cabo Verde to learn about the social and cultural aspects of global environmental change.

“With climate action, there is such a need for collective change. We all need to be a part of creating the solutions,” she says.

Xie recently returned from Kuala Lumpur, where she attended the Planetary Health Annual Meeting hosted by Sunway University, and met researchers, practitioners, and students from around the world who are working to address challenges facing human and planetary health.

Since January 2023, Xie has been involved with the Planetary Health Alliance, a consortium of organizations working at the intersection of human health and global environmental change. As a campus ambassador, she organized events at MIT that built on students’ interests in climate change and health while exploring themes of community and well-being.

“I think doing these events on campus and bringing people together has been my way of trying to understand how to put conceptual ideas into action,” she says.

Grassroots community-building

An urban studies and planning major with minors in anthropology and biology, Xie is also earning her master’s degree in city planning in a dual degree program, which she will finish next year.

Through her studies and numerous community activities, she has developed a multidimensional view of public health and the environment that includes spirituality and the arts as well as science and technology. “What I appreciate about being here at MIT is the opportunities to try to connect the sciences back to other disciplines,” she says.

As a campus ambassador for the Planetary Health Alliance, Xie hosted a club mixer event during Earth Month last year, that brought together climate, health, and social justice groups from across the Institute. She also created a year-long series that concluded its final event last month, called Cultural Transformation for Planetary Health. Organized with the Radius Forum and other partners, the series explored social and cultural implications of the climate crisis, with a focus on how environmental change affects health and well-being.

Xie has also worked with the Planetary Health Alliance’s Constellation Project through a Public Service Fellowship from the PKG Center, which she describes as “an effort to convene people from across different areas of the world to talk about the intersections of spirituality, the climate, and environmental change and planetary health.”

She has also interned at the Comunidades Enraizadas Community Land Trust, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Wildlife Fund U.S. Markets Institute. And, she has taken her studies abroad through MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). In 2023 she spent her Independent Activities Period in a pilot MISTI Global Classroom program in Amsterdam, and in the summer of 2023, she spent two months in Cabo Verde helping to start a new research collaboration tracking the impacts of climate change on human health.

Read on MIT News

Tags: Climate, PKG Alum, PKG Alumni, Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships 2021, Social Impact Internships Summer 2021, Summer 2021

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