Advancing Democratic Reforms

Robyn Oates
Master of Arts in Global Policy (MAGP)

Growing up in South Africa, Robyn witnessed firsthand a country transition from an oppressive minority regime to a democracy grounded in “one man one vote” and, what some consider the world’s most advanced constitution. Seeing how political reform could shape a nation sparked her desire to help eliminate inequality by promoting the freedom, prosperity and dignity of all people.

Robyn’s professional experience in the international financial sector, and currently with the United Nations, gave her perspective on critical social, economic and political needs. By coming to Johns Hopkins SAIS, Robyn hoped to gain a deeper understanding of the emerging geopolitical landscape to contribute toward meaningful social changes at an international level.

The broad curriculum offered by the Master of Arts in Global Policy Program (MAGP), which emphasized the practical application of theory to current issues, helped Robyn develop expertise on a range of global issues and strengthened her ability to navigate complex political agendas. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the program was the formulation of her capstone research project in which she and a small group of classmates examined areas of democratic reform in India. In close consultation with India’s Parliamentary Research Services (PRS), the team applied the conceptual frameworks and comparative research methods learned in class to develop realistic policy strategies for strengthening the Indian Parliament at both a structural and procedural level. In finalizing their project, Robyn’s team had the unique opportunity to travel to India and engage directly with prominent politicians, leading activist groups, media, and local constituents to refine policy recommendations and ensure that these were appropriately grounded in India’s political and socio-cultural context.

Robyn said the past 16 months of study have been challenging, but the passionate teaching of the school’s professors and deep friendships formed within the MAGP cohort have left her with a wealth of knowledge and rich experiences. Robyn looks forward to applying her knowledge and skills to the challenges of migration politics and transitional justice.

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