| by Stephen Diehl

News Stories

Shahbazi, Alex
Alex Shahbazi MAIEP ’23

The Arctic has always beckoned to environmental policy student Alex Shahbazi.

Like many, he sees the region as a natural wonder but also as an opportunity to correct human-caused harms—both to the environment and to Indigenous populations of the Arctic nations. He felt fortunate when he landed an internship with Polar Bears International (PBI), an organization he had long admired since his days working at a zoo straight out of college.

“They were always this organization that I knew was doing cool stuff instead of just talking about it, which ultimately led me to getting my degree in International Environmental Policy,” said Shahbazi.

The timing worked out well: PBI was establishing a policy department when Shahbazi was looking for a Professional Service Semester. They needed someone with the capacity to focus on what they were trying to do, specifically with the polar bear range states—the five countries that touch the Arctic Circle.

His internship focused most closely on the Circumpolar Action Plan, a 10-year collaboration among the countries in which polar bears live, to make progress on polar bear conservation. “My role in all that is evaluating what they [PBI] have done and how best they can improve it,” said Shahbazi.

Although PBI is primarily a remote organization, he visited in person at the beginning of the internship to work with his supervisor and set up the project. He completed the rest of his work remotely. On a typical day he dove into research documents and spreadsheets, meeting with staff and doing lots of thinking about the complexities of multilateral polar bear conservation.

“This internship could not have been better for my career goals,” said Shahbazi. “I’ve always wanted to work in international environmental protection and conservation, specifically through the lens of a nonprofit and specifically if there’s an aspect of Indigenous populations, and bringing their concerns to the table. This experience makes me hopeful that there’s a place for me in all of this.”

The Most Interesting Thing about My Polar Bear Internship

Alex Shahbazi MAIEP ’23 interned with Polar Bears International, where he worked on multilateral conservation policy.

Here’s What Keeps Me Hopeful

During his internship with Polar Bears International, Alex Shahbazi MAIEP ’23 found reasons for optimism while facing a very challenging task.