Alejandro graduated with high distinction from a five-year specialist degree in International Development Studies and a major in Economics at the University of Toronto Scarborough (2016). For his honours thesis at the University of Toronto, he researched how the increasingly prominent development initiative of index-based agricultural insurance (IBAI) – which packages financial derivatives based on environmental measures as insurance – interplays with the vulnerability of Indian farmers. In recognition of the high quality of his research, he was awarded the best thesis of his graduating class. Alejandro has since collaborated with his thesis supervisor, Dr. Ryan Isakson, with whom he is currently writing a paper for publication of his findings which suggest that the relationship between farmers and insurance has undermined traditional risk management practices, producing new vulnerabilities through an increasing dependence on the private sector. Alejandro is also working closely with Dr. Isakson on a research project looking at similar questions related to a new IBAI product in Guatemala.
Since graduating in 2016, Alejandro has further developed his research abilities in a number of relevant employment capacities. These include collaborations with several of his former professors. Three projects are particularly noteworthy. First, his work with Professor Leslie Chan, a pioneer of the open access movement, who pushed him to expand his inquiry of financial governance and market-led development to the study of academic knowledge production. Through his work with Dr. Chan and as a part of an international research network they developed a manifesto tackling questions of inclusion in the production of scientific knowledge. The manifesto motivated Alejandro to launch the Knowledge G.A.P. (Geopolitics of Academic Production) research group, where he is researching how rent-seeking and financial motives are driving economic concentration among academic publishers. Last year, he published a paper and a book chapter reporting his findings, which he presented at two conferences (El Pub and OpenCon) and which has been incorporated as a core reading for a Global Ethics course at Carleton University. Second, his work with Dr. Anne Emanuelle Birn, former Canadian research chair on International Health, who hired him to coordinate the design of a master specialization on development policy. Third, his work with renowned development economist Dr. Albert Berry in a consultancy for the Colombian government, where they presented international case studies of land redistribution to inform agrarian post-conflict policy.
His work with Dr. Berry has encouraged Alejandro to move back to Colombia where for the past six months he has been working as a research analyst in Econometria, a high-profile policy-evaluation firm. There, he has been engaging directly with UNICEF in the evaluation of the educational, child marriage, and social assistance policies of Afghanistan, Georgia and Bangladesh as well as with Bogota’s city council in the evaluation of their policy on disability. Exposure to the Colombian policy context through his work with Dr. Berry and Econometria coupled with his interest on the ongoing and volatile agrarian post-conflict transition have fueled his desire to critically study the intersection of agrarian change and global financial regimes in his native context. To this end, Alejandro has successfully enrolled in an MSc in Global Governance at the University of Oxford, a program which he has been drawn to as a result of their focus on international political economy and peacebuilding. Most recently and for the completion of his studies at Oxford, Alejandro has been awarded the prestigious and highly competitive Chevening Scholarship which will fully fund all of the expenses associated with his studies and position him as a part of a global network of leaders. Chevening is the UK Government’s International award scheme which is funded by the Foreign Commonwealth Office and is aimed at developing global leaders. Since its inception in 1983, Chevening has financed the graduate education of students from 160 countries and territories, many of which have excelled in their careers including 14 heads of state. To be selected Alejandro had to pass multiple application stages and a final interview stage in which he was judged in relation to his leadership, networking, career and academic trajectories as well as his future career plans.