College of Arts & Sciences Alum to Study ‘Citizen Energy’ Movement in Berlin

MAIA Program Grad Alexis Fernandez Receives Scholarship from German Academic Exchange Service

For the past five years, concerned citizens in Berlin have created an energy revolution, working with city officials to transform distribution of energy resources throughout the capital.

This summer, Alexis Fernandez – a graduate of the Master’s of Arts in International Administration (MAIA) program in the UM College of Arts & Sciences – will be one of the first people to study the impact of this creative energy solution.

“As a DAAD grant recipient, I will investigate and document this exemplary and prescient case of an engaged citizenry seeking to minimize their contribution to anthropogenic climate change by commandeering their city’s energy supply infrastructure,” he said.

DAAD – the German Academic Exchange Service – is a publicly funded organization that provides scholarships for North American students to pursue research and study in Germany.

Fernandez will work in the Environmental Policy Research Center of the Freie Universität Berlin, “one of the world’s foremost research institutes on sustainable energy politics and policy.”

In designing his research project, Fernandez built upon his MAIA experience.

“For my practicum, I led an international student consulting team, coordinating our research on Brazil’s new offshore oil and gas fiscal regime/regulatory framework and managing our in-country fieldwork of meetings and interviews,” he said.

MAIA is an interdisciplinary graduate-level program that prepares students for careers in the administration of international public and private organizations. MAIA integrates theory and practice, including an internship component for all students.

After graduating from MAIA, Fernandez worked for the College of Arts & Sciences Departments of Geography and Regional Studies, International Studies and Political Science.

He previously served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, where he “helped to guide the development of a social enterprise start-up.”

Fernandez called his DAAD scholarship “a bridge between (his) past experience and (his) aspiration to help guide developing world communities committed to renewable energy transformation.” 

He added, “I hope to position myself for a career at the intersection of social entrepreneurship, sustainable economic development, and renewable energy technologies. Moreover, I wish to serve as a liaison between Germany and its US enterprise in renewable energy adoption, promoting the revolutionary narrative Germany offers the world: an industrialized country can transition to renewable energies while growing its economy and advancing democracy.”

June 24, 2015