Christina T. Kwauk2023 Rising Alumni Award Recipient

Christina T. Kwauk

Christina T. Kwauk (she/her) is a social scientist and policy analyst with expertise on girls’ education, 21st century skills and youth empowerment, sport for development, and the intersections of gender, education, and climate change. She is co-editor of Curriculum and Learning for Climate Action: Toward an SDG 4.7 Roadmap for Systems Change and co-author of What Works in Girls’ Education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment. She has published numerous policy papers, including “The new green learning agenda: Approaches to quality education for climate empowerment.” Christina is an education consultant and research director at Unbounded Associates. Formerly, she was a fellow at Brookings and head of climate and education at The Education Commission.

Current Job

Research Director at Unbounded Associates

CEHD Degree

PhD, Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development

What is your favorite memory from the University of Minnesota?

My favorite memory was working together with fellow graduate students in Comparative and International Development Education (CIDE) and from the Humphrey School to launch IPID (Interdisciplinary Perspectives in International Development) and getting a grant for a speaker series, organizing this, and launching a student-led peer reviewed journal. That was empowering as students, it taught us important project management skills, instigated us to network with professionals in our field, and really gave us a sense of confidence and a space to direct our energies to do something meaningful on campus around international development.

What professor(s) or course(s) were most influential during your time in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD)?

I benefited greatly from Dr. Fran Vavrus's Gender and Education course. It provided me with the foundations (both theoretical and practical) for entering my first professional field of girls' education fresh out of my doctoral studies. It provided me with a laser focus on transformative system change and a standard to which I would later orient all of my work.

What's a good book you'd recommend to others?

I have been recommending Kim Stanley Robinson's Ministry for the Future a lot lately. It offers insights into what the world may be like if we don't take bold, systemic climate action now, both in terms of the toll of human suffering that lies ahead but also the extremeness of action that will need to be taken later if we don't start now. Importantly, the book ends on a ray of hope, but one that is situated in a dramatically and drastically climate-impacted world.

What gets you excited about work?

I left my dream job at a think tank to give myself the space to support more "doing" around climate action and climate justice. What gets me excited about this work is the idea of making incremental change through each client, through each project, and through each collaboration, and having the space to continue identifying gaps in evidence and pursuing those evidence gaps with teams of talented individuals to better inform how we work toward climate solutions.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Growing up in Huntsville, Alabama (home of the Space and Rocket Center), I wanted to be an astronaut for the longest time. Today, I am still fascinated by space and the cosmos. Then that dream gradually switched to wanting to be an Olympic figure skater as I became more competitive and inspired by the likes of Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan.